The ‘Hit Man’ Wins Again

By Tom Donelson
Updated: November 24, 2008

Gloves IOWA CITY — Paul Malignaggi is ever the showman with quick hands and great boxing skills but the New York-based fighter have always been cursed with a brittle right hand and lack of power.

Against Ricky Hatton, Malignaggi would need all the tricks of the master boxer as his only hope for victory was to out boxed and out punched the British hit man.

In the first round, Malignaggi appeared to solve the riddle of Hatton as he boxed brilliantly for the last minute but this proved his high water. In the waning seconds of the second round, Hatton nailed Malignaggi with a right and hei held on to get end of the round.

From this point, Hatton knew that his opponent could not hurt him and he fought a battle of attrition against his outgunned adversary. Malignaggi had always one thing that pundits rarely credited a tough chin and has always been a hard man to knock out and in a sport where he would always be the weaker puncher.

This was a benefit. Against Miguel Cotto, he managed to survive a beating and against Hatton, he faced another beating from a stronger fighter.

After the right hand in the second round, Hatton simply marched forward as he launched vicious body shots after body shots while nailing Malignaggi with straight right hands and left hooks.

Malignaggi rarely threw his right and only jab one at a time; seldom double or triple those jabs. As the fight progressed, Hatton wore Malignaggi down and at times he looked like a man determined to survive as oppose a fighter trying to win.

Malignaggi often clinched Hatton and not the other way round. In the seventh round, Hatton nearly stopped Malignaggi with a left hook and in the eighth round, Hatton dug in deeper as Malignaggi looked more worn.

Going into the 10th round, Malignaggi’s trainer Buddy McGirt warned his fighter that if he didn’t show him anything; he would stop the fight. Hatton nailed Malignaggi with body shots and as Malignaggi retreated; McGirt made good on his promise and threw in the towel.

While Malignaggi complained; McGirt seen enough.After the fight, Malignaggi showed his disappointment as he noted that he was more hurt against Cotto and yet finished.

Malignaggi just wanted to finish and not have a TKO on his record, especially in a fight that he was not hurt. As for Hatton, this was an impressive victory as he dominated the fight from the second round and on.

Ricky Hatton regained his status as the king of the junior welterweights that he gained when he defeated Kotsya Tszyu in 2004. With only one lost to Floyd Mayweather, one of the great pound for pound over the past two decades; Hatton had been a solid champion among 140 pounds and even captured a portion of the Welterweight title.

As a welterweight, he defeated a reigning champion in Luis Collazo and Hall of Famer Jose Luis Castillo before losing to Mayweather. After his lost to Mayweather, he decided to go back to the junior welterweights.

Hatton’s victory over Malignaggi not only cements his position as the king of the 140 pounds but he is in position for another big money fight as there is talk of him taking on the winner of Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao.

(I suspect that he would prefer to fight Pacquaio but either way, it is another big money PPV fight.)

Hatton is one of those fighters who often underrated and underappreciated. Much is made of his gaining massive weights between fights (This problem may shortened former Heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe career and could affect Hatton future successes), but what is overlooked is that he has only lost one fight and that to a great fighter.

He has won his share of big fights and while he doesn’t have pleasing fighting style but he does win. And he brings fans to the seat. HBO Larry Merchant observed that 1.4 million of Hatton’s fellow Brits bought PPV of his fight with Mayweather.

A Hatton fight features fans enthusiasm rarely seen in America today and during his last fight with Malignaggi; his fans traveled an ocean to root for their man. Singing and chanting in the background, A Hatton fight is major event resembling a soccer match as oppose to a boxing match.

Hatton has charisma and that spells crowded arenas and big ratings.

Meanwhile, former woman boxing star Ann Wolfe is showing that she may even be better trainer as she is putting James Kirkland into a championship contention.

Against Brian Vera, he pressured his fellow Austin, Texas fighter with ferocious body shots and knocked down Veros twice in the third round and then one more in the eighth before the referee stopped the fight.

Kirkland is improving with each fight and one reason is his trainer, the indomitable Ann Wolfe. In a division that is seeing the infusion of new talents, Kirkland has a chance for stardom.