View Full Version : COMING TO AMERICA

02-19-2006, 05:27 PM
By TK Stewart

February 19, 2006 - The Beatles in 1964 and The Rolling Stones in 1965. Featherweight champion Barry McGuigan in 1986. They were all hometown and national heroes. They sold out their own local arenas and big-city stadiums. But, until they made it here they hadn’t made it anywhere. Now, Ricky Hatton is looking to conquer America and make his name on this side of the pond in this latest UK Invasion.

Following in the footsteps of the many that came to the shores of America before him, Manchester, England’s favorite son, Ricky Hatton will fight his first big bout in America on May 13th at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut. Hatton is the IBF and WBA Champion at 140 pounds and he has a glistening professional record of 40-0 (30)KO. Coming off spectacular stoppage wins over Kostya Tszyu and Carlos Maussa, Hatton was named 2005 “Fighter of the Year” by “The Ring” magazine, so to say he is riding high would be an understatement. Hatton is eager to test his mettle against the best America will have to offer him and fight fans here in the states are excited to see if he is the real thing.

Ricky Hatton is now here in the states firming the deal for his next opponent and negotiating television contracts. When asked what fighting here in America means to him, Hatton said, “My main goal at the minute is to fight in the states. Vegas, Madison Square Garden, these are things that I’ve always dreamed of. Nobody has seen me fight live in the states in the flesh yet. Let people see what Ricky Hatton is all about live…live and in action.”

When Ireland’s Barry McGuigan came to America in 1986 he was riding the crest of a similar wave. McGuigan was extremely popular throughout Ireland and on the nights that he fought the warring factions of Catholics and Protestants in the country came together as one. Barry would enter the ring to the sound of his father’s loving voice singing the Irish ballad, “Danny Boy”. Once the partisan crowd got going it was the roaring chants of “Here we go, here we go, here we go!” McGuigan had won the WBA featherweight title from the long reigning champion Eusebio Pedroza of Panama in June 1985. A year later the pressure was on for him to come to America and show American fans who he really was.

Fight manager Barney Eastwood guided McGuigan’s career and he made it no secret that he never wanted McGuigan to come to America. In fact, even McGuigan himself was reluctant to fight in the United States. In 1986 Eastwood remarked, “I have never been in favor of coming to the United States. Barry has done so much good for the local community, both north and south. He brings both sides together, even if it’s only for one night. In a way, it’s a pity to move him on. In fact, if it wasn’t for a cutback in American TV money, there would have been no reason not to stay.”

By June 1986 the stage was set for McGuigan to defend his title and make himself known in America against Argentine featherweight champion Fernando Sosa. “My goal is to be the most popular fighter in America” McGuigan said. The fight was part of Bob Arum’s “Triple Hitter” card at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that featured Thomas Hearns vs. Mark Medal and Roberto Duran vs. Robbie Sims.

Sosa was expected to be a soft touch for McGuigan and it was thought that this would be a great match-up in which to showcase the young lad from Ireland. However, Sosa had to pull out of the fight because it was discovered that he was suffering from two detached retinas that ended his boxing career. In stepped what was thought to be another relatively safe opponent named Stevie Cruz. A young, unknown fighter from Fort Worth, Texas, Cruz worked as a plumber’s helper and entered the fight against McGuigan as a 4-1 underdog.

Like Hatton, McGuigan had fought once in the United States before coming back to make a big splash as champion. Eastwood describes the effect that fighting away from home that first time had on McGuigan; “When Barry came to the United States to fight in 1983, he got very homesick. He was OK for the first 10 or 12 days, but then he got very lonely. I could see it coming on. He’s just a wee, country boy, you know. He missed the green grass and the countryside.”

Despite training for a month in the heat of the Palm Springs, California desert, McGuigan’s Irish body never adapted to the extremely high temperatures that the desert brings. The bout against Stevie Cruz was held outside in Las Vegas in June and the thermometer readings were in the110 degree range. Three thousand Irishmen came over to support their hero at Caesars Palace but it was no use. The heat was the real villain for McGuigan and for that he had no answer. In what was voted the fight of the year by “The Ring” magazine, McGuigan and Cruz engaged in a toe-to-toe war in what was one of the most action packed featherweight title bouts in history. Ultimately, however, McGuigan was ravaged by Stevie Cruz’ punches and the oppressive heat. Cruz dropped Barry once in the 10th round and twice in the 15th and McGuigan lost a unanimous decision as well as his title. Taken to the hospital in an ambulance, a vomiting and visibly ill McGuigan spent the night in a Las Vegas hospital suffering from severe dehydration and heat prostration.

Nobody knew it then, but Barry McGuigan’s career essentially ended that night on the Las Vegas strip. McGuigan never got back on track from the disaster against Stevie Cruz and never again fought in a world title fight or in the United States. It was a fight that was supposed to mark a new beginning for McGuigan and showcase him in America, but what it really marked was the end. Barry McGuigan would only fight four more times in the next three years losing his final bout at age twenty-nine.

Fast-forward twenty years and Manchester, England’s Ricky Hatton is perhaps the most sought after fighter in the sport of boxing. Hatton has regularly sold out the Manchester Evening News Arena in his hometown and his bouts there are spectacles not be missed. Hatton enters the ring to the song “Blue Moon” and thousands of his fans sing along in unison as he makes his way into the ring. Hatton is an electric performer who is all action and his bouts are lively affairs with lots of aggression, wild swinging, drama and sometimes blood.

Before signing promotional contracts with Dennis Hobson and Artie Pellulo, half a dozen of the world’s top boxing promoters were chasing after Hatton in order to have the opportunity to promote his fights. Both HBO and Showtime television networks here in the United States are still vying for the chance to televise his future bouts.

Despite the fact that an opponent for Hatton has not yet been named, his bout in May is so highly anticipated that Foxwoods Resort and Casino will be erecting a specially constructed 20,000 seat tent arena in which to hold his bout.

Hatton has always said that he wants to headline in Las Vegas and see his name and likeness on the strip in Las Vegas, “That’s the days you dream of really. To see my name up in lights on the strip of Vegas and you know, topping the bill at Madison Square Garden. I always had confidence in myself but I never, ever dreamed I’d get to this stage and now I’m here and that’s the next goal.”

Barry McGuigan knows very well the challenges that America will bring. During the last few years, Hatton has found himself a friend in Barry McGuigan. In his role as an elder statesman and commentator in Great Britain, McGuigan has offered Hatton both advice and encouragement as the young Hatton’s career has progressed.

McGuigan was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June 2005 and he spoke fondly of Hatton. “He’s a lovely young lad, very humble, funny and approachable. I know it's a cliché, but it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. He's just a smashing kid, simple as that. He's a real throwback and it’s because he’s such a nice guy that he generates such incredible support. I am absolutely delighted for the kid. Ricky has that appeal, right across the board. Fight fans love him, people on the fringes of boxing love him, and the British public loves him too.”

America is ready for Ricky Hatton. Is Ricky Hatton ready for America?

02-21-2006, 01:59 PM
I'm hearing that Ricky Hatton will face Vivian Harris on May 13th at Foxwoods....

Any thoughts?

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02-21-2006, 02:54 PM
This will be a good fight if Harris doesn't choke under the pressure like last time. Classic matchup. Boxer vs the Puncher. I would give the edge to Hatton as he seems to have the chin and is a great pressure fighter.

Todd Hodgson
02-21-2006, 02:56 PM
Dangerous opponent with little to gain, ever since Gollum embarrassed Harris.

Why are they taking the Hatton Show to Foxwoods? I thought NYC made more sense in building a Cotto or Floyd fight.

02-21-2006, 03:15 PM
Hatton's new co-promoter, Artie Pellulo of Banner Promotions, has a very cozy relationship with the powers that be at Foxwoods.

Hence the Acelino Freitas fights that have been held there - and now Ricky Hatton.

It certainly does not bother me one bit! I'm only a five hour drive from Foxwoods and I will be attending the Hatton bout in May. I actually booked my hotel room for that weekend at Foxwoods yesterday.

I haven't looked forward to attending a fight this much since the last Gatti vs. Ward battle in 2003. To say I can't wait is a bit of an understatement.

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Todd Hodgson
02-21-2006, 03:36 PM
I'm a 10-minute subway ride from MSG. Isn't MSG bigger than Foxwoods? English people are always looking for a reason to visit NYC -- the aging and irrelevant Oasis sold out MSG in about two hours last year, and it definitely wasn't all Americans at the show. There are also a huge number of English people who live and work in NYC. I guess that's why it surprises me...if they're smart they'll build Hatton-Cotto for MSG.

02-21-2006, 04:10 PM
Caught a brief glimpse of Hatton on FNF last Friday. Looks like he might be porking up between fights again...

02-21-2006, 07:38 PM
I hear 170 pounds...

He's got to weigh 155 on fight night, a la Miguel Cotto and Arturo Gatti.

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02-21-2006, 08:10 PM
I read that Hattons's next foe was to be his mandatory, Naoufel Ben Rabah.

02-22-2006, 01:30 AM
TKO I am at this Foxwoods fight hands down. Let's be sure to meet up.

02-22-2006, 01:08 PM
Sounds good to me. I'll have my wife with me.

But definitely, it's always good to put a face to a name.

I met a bunch of guys from another message board I used to frequent when I was out in Vegas to see Mayweather vs. Corrales. It was fun.

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02-22-2006, 04:00 PM


NEW YORK -- Ricky Hatton had more important plans for Monday.

The 140-pound champion weighs about 170, so the unbeaten British boxing star should've been in England, beginning a 12-week training camp for a May 13 fight that Hatton hopes marks his coming out party on American soil. Hatton had to be in Manhattan, though, where he will participate Wednesday in a hearing directly related to his squabble with his former promoter, Frank Warren. The influential English promoter, with whom Hatton split following his career-changing victory over heavily favored former junior welterweight king Kostya Tszyu on June 4, is trying to force Hatton to make a mandatory defense of his World Boxing Association title against France's Souleymane M'baye.

Since Hatton (40-0, 30 KOs) refused to continue working with Warren because "some things happened that made me begin to question the relationship," Warren has explored every imaginable measure to force the television-friendly fighter he carefully constructed into a great gate attraction into continuing to box beneath his promotional umbrella. Warren signed M'baye (33-1, 18 KOs) a skilled fighter, who has lost only to Vivian Harris, only after Hatton dumped him. Hatton insists his contract with Warren expired after he beat Tszyu (31-2, 25 KOs, 1 NC), a fight for which Hatton made more than $2 million, but still about $3 million less than the Australian star he forced to quit after 11 rough rounds in Manchester.

"He has sued my father (manager Ray Hatton)," Hatton said of a libel lawsuit Warren filed. "He is continuously claiming that he has a contract and he is basically trying to hit me from all angles. It's very disruptive, when all I want to do is get on with the boxing."

The affable, humble Hatton will get on with the boxing one way or the other after Wednesday's proceedings, during which successful boxing attorney Judd Burstein will represent M'baye. If a judge rules in the Frenchman's favor, Hatton indicated he still won't want to meet M'baye in May. If he is to become Britain's biggest crossover star since flamboyant featherweight Prince Naseem Hamed, M'baye probably doesn't possess the marquee value Hatton seeks in his next opponent.

Worse yet, M'baye works with Warren, the situation Hatton is trying to avoid.

"Let's say, for argument's sake, there was no conflict between me and Warren," Hatton said. "I wouldn't want to box M'baye anyway, regardless of the conflict with Frank Warren. My next goal in boxing is to become established in the United States, and I don't think M'baye is going to help to do that. ... HBO or Showtime, whichever television network I work with here in the States, they're not going to want (to broadcast an M'baye match). He might be a nice guy for all I know, but if the judge was to rule against me, I feel it would damage my career because I don't feel like M'baye is an opponent people will want to see me fight."

Hatton, 27, would ideally like to challenge Carlos Baldomir, the newly crowned World Boxing Council welterweight champ. But Baldomir (42-9-6, 12 KOs) priced himself out of a proposed fight against undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. by reportedly asking for $2 million. Baldomir made only $100,000 for fighting Zab Judah on Jan. 7 in The Theatre at Madison Square Garden, where the 16-to-1 underdog upset Judah by unanimous decision.

Judah (34-3, 25 KOs, 1 NC), a Brooklyn-bred boxer that resides in Teaneck, will still meet Mayweather (35-0, 24 KOs) in an April 8 pay-per-view showdown in Las Vegas. So Baldomir's options probably have been narrowed to the May 13 Hatton bout at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn., and a fight against Gatti at Boardwalk Hall on an undetermined day in July. Hatton, who repeatedly referred to Gatti Monday as one of his boxing "idols," wouldn't mind boxing Baldomir and then Hoboken's Gatti, if they both beat their next opponents.

"People like Gatti and Baldomir, those fights are going to establish my reputation over here and, hopefully, eventually build to a fight with Mayweather," said Hatton, who is co-promoted by Philadelphia's Art Pelullo and England's Dennis Hobson. "It would be disrespectful to (Baldomir) to say he got lucky against Zab Judah, but he wasn't expected to win that fight. He did, and obviously he's going to want to cash in. But from his point of view, it would be a great incentive (to fight me), because he beat the man who beat the man at welterweight. And then he could fight me, the No. 1 man at 140 as well. So it's a great prospect for him."

Bypassing Baldomir for fast financial gratification against Gatti doesn't interest Hatton because of his lifelong love affair with soccer. Hatton joked Monday that his son, 5-year-old Campbell, actually said, "Manchester City," before he said, "Dad." All kidding aside, though, soccer is the reason Hatton doesn't want to either fight in June or spend the month training for a July fight against Gatti (40-7, 31 KOs).

Even the wildly popular Hatton would be buried by World Cup coverage among British media outlets. And truthfully, Hatton wants to watch the World Cup with a beer in his hand, not with gloves on his hands while training for a fight. He intends to attend England's games in Germany, too.

Nevertheless, if he doesn't box Baldomir on May 13, Hatton will remain at 140 pounds for his next fight.

Brooklyn's Harris, a former WBA champ, actually crashed an intimate media meeting at a midtown restaurant Monday, just to remain in Hatton's consciousness. They shook hands as Harris left after finishing lunch with a business associate and Hatton acknowledged that he would consider facing Harris next if the Baldomir bout doesn't materialize. Harris (26-2-1, 17 KOs) lost his title to Colombian underdog Carlos Maussa on the Gatti-Mayweather undercard on June 25, six months before Hatton knocked out Maussa (20-3, 18 KOs) to win the WBA belt in Sheffield, England.

Hatton also mentioned all-action WBA lightweight champ Juan Diaz (28-0, 14 KOs) as a possible opponent, but the University of Houston student is expected to participate in a rematch against Mongolian mandatory challenger Lavka Sim (21-4-1, 18 KOs). Diaz defeated Sim by unanimous decision to win the WBA's 135-pound crown 19 months ago in Houston. Their rematch was scheduled for March 3 in Los Angeles, but promoter Dan Goossen canceled the FOX Sports Net show for logistical reasons.

Hatton, however, has a firm date, considerable interest from boxing's biggest cable outlets and a genuine appreciation of his new star status. While he acknowledged he couldn't become more popular in England after topping Tszyu, he seemed sincerely flattered by being recognized in Times Square over the last few days.

"I never thought," Hatton said, "that it would ever get like this."

02-25-2006, 02:40 PM
Sorry to say guys but Boxing News here in the UK says "It seems Hatton's mooted May 13 date at Foxwoods, Connecticut won't happen. He could still fight on that date but not at Foxwoods.".

02-25-2006, 02:50 PM
I hear Baldomir priced himself out & went with Gatti.
Hatton can't see to find the right dance partner for some reason.