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Thread: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

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    Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Castillo-Hatton: Lurching Toward Semi-Greatness?
    By John Hively from Boxing Scene

    It would be a terrible disappointment to boxing fans if the June battle between Jose Luis Castillo and Ricky “the Hitman” Hatton was postponed to a later date. For boxing fans this fight should occur sooner than later if only because it has the potential to be an exciting slam bang match-up between two proven warriors, both of whom are capable of crafty boxing and hard punching.

    Both fighters are currently on most top ten pound-for-pound lists, and their upcoming clash should also give us a better idea of where they may stand among the all-time great pugilists of the past.

    Castillo turned pro in 1990 and has a record a fifty-five wins, seven losses and a draw. His peak years (2000-06) were fought as a lightweight, and it is his achievements there that historians and fans should judge him. Jose Luis has been stopped five times, four of them during his formative years and these shouldn’t be held against him. Many notable fighters started out as bad or even worse; the great middleweight Tony Zale is a prime example of a fighter who lost several encounters during his formative years.

    During the last nine years Castillo has lost only three fights: a dramatic stoppage at the hands of Diego Corrales, and two decisions to all-time great Floyd Mayweather. A fair number of observers, certainly not all, were of the opinion that Castillo triumphed over Floyd in their first engagement, but he still didn’t receive the judges' nod, and so it went into the record books as a loss. Mayweather won the second fight by a hefty margin.

    Castillo’s biggest wins during his lightweight stint have been against Corrales KO4, Joel Casamayor W12, and Stevie Johnston W12. All three were outstanding boxers when Castillo pinned the losses on them, and they would have been outstanding contenders during any period in history. In several past eras, they may even have become champions rather than just alphabet titlists. On the other hand, Castillo was not a lightweight when he scored the KO over Corrales. He was several pounds heavier than his opponent. Diego was still a lightweight, and perhaps when rating Jose Luis in that weight class we shouldn’t count that success.

    Outside of Mayweather, and perhaps Corrales, Jose Luis has arguably been the best lightweight in the world during the last six years. As such, some experts could make the case that he was one of the better lightweights of all times. A person could also argue that his best pugilistic feats pale in comparison to other great fighters of the past.

    A few years ago the Ring magazine came up with a list of the top twenty lightweights all time. Sammy Angott, a two time champion during the 1940s, was given an honorable mention, which meant he was rated somewhere between the twenty-first and thirtieth of all time.

    Sammy fought anybody near his weight, including three competitive losses to welterweight Sugar Ray Robinson. He also defeated some of the great fighters on the Ring’s lists. Bob Montgomery was rated among the top ten lightweights by the Ring. He was at his peak when Angott schooled him in all three of their fights. Sammy lost two controversial decisions to Ike Williams, the guy listed as number five by the Ring’s staff, but in their third fight, Angott swarmed all over a prime Williams, beat him from pillar to post, won every round, and stopped him in six heats. Sammy also pinned the only loss on a prime Willie Pep, the man the expert’s of the Ring rate as the top featherweight of all time, and a boxer often listed as one of the ten greatest fighters pound-for-pound of all time. Angott also whipped Freddie Miller, one of the top five featherweights of all-time, according to the Ring.

    Obviously, Castillo’s pugilistic achievements fall considerably short of Angott’s. Perhaps a person could argue that the Ring underrates the great Italian-American fighter, and maybe he should be placed in the top twenty, perhaps the top ten. But if he isn’t in the top twenty of all time, and he barely squeezes into the top thirty, it’s difficult to make the case that Castillo belongs any where near the top thirty, forty, fifty, or maybe even the top one hundred lightweights of all time; even if he was the second or third best lightweight for the last five years.

    It is possible that much of Castillo’s place in history may very well be riding on his coming war with Ricky Hatton.

    The Hitman is undefeated and untied in forty-two straight fights, thirty by knockout. That’s quite an accomplishment, even if he was carefully managed for three quarters or more of his career. During the last three years, Hatton has vanquished some really good fighters, including an all-time great in Kostya Tszyu, in which he won the junior welterweight championship. Then he stepped up in weight and claimed a welterweight alphabet title with a close victory in a see-saw struggle against Luis Collazo. Hatton will take a big step in establishing his credentials as a great fistic warrior if he decisively beats Castillo, but the Hitman still has several other steps to take before he achieves such status.

    Hatton’s path toward greatness is somewhat shorter than the road Castillo has traveled if only because the junior welterweight division is younger than the lightweight class, and the number of great boxers that have fought there are miniscule in comparison to the lightweights. Hatton, in other words, may not need to be as successful as Castillo to achieve the label of being a great junior welterweight.

    A victory over the best junior welterweight in the world would provide fuel for the argument that Castillo is worthy of being placed among the great lightweights of all time. Although the fight will take place outside of the lightweight class, a triumph may give us a better idea of how he rates. I suspect that a win over Hatton will still be insufficient to propel him into the top thirty or even fifty lightweights of all time. Assuming he is successful against the Hitman, Castillo’s fistic accomplishments will still lag far behind those of Angott, as well as others who are not rated among the Rings top thirty of all time.

    Regardless of how history judges the feats of Jose Luis, Castillo vs. Hatton could very well wind up being a fight of the year candidate. So let’s get it on sooner than later. Why wait until a date later than June? Bring it on!

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    Hatton-Castillo Pre-Fight Press & Predictions - June Bout Set

    JUNE DATE FOR HATTON-CASTILLO
    from Sky Sports.com
    Ricky Hatton's bout with Jose Luis Castillo has been confirmed for the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on June 23.

    The lightly-regarded IBO light-welterweight title will be a stake although that is the least attractive aspect of a contest that will see two of the most exciting fighters in the business go toe-to-toe.

    Castillo, 33, is a former WBC lightweight champion and is best remembered for two epic battles with Diego Corrales.

    Both men featured on the same bill at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas last January - Castillo failing to impress during a split-decision win over Hernan Ngoudjo, while Hatton also laboured during a points success against Juan Urango.

    That victory earned Hatton the IBF light-welterweight crown, a belt he opted to relinquish in order to face Castillo.

    "You become a great fighter by fighting great fighters and Jose is one of them," said Hatton.

    "When I beat Kostya Tszyu I beat one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and Jose undoubtedly falls into that category as well.

    "I am so excited about this fight and I am living my dreams by topping the bill in Las Vegas again.

    "This fight does not need anyone to sell it because everybody knows how good it is going to be. I am not going to take a backward step and neither will Jose.

    "A lot has been said about our last performances but when you are involved in so many big fights you raise your game for a challenge - and this is a challenge to say the least."

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    Can Hatton Pull Himself Together For Castillo?

    Living Life To The Fullest
    CAN HATTON PULL HIMSELF TOGETHER
    FOR CASTILLO?

    By Brian Doogan
    The Ring

    Sergio Leone would have handled the scene a lot differently. At one end of the crowded city center restaurant in Manchester was Ricky Hatton, “the white Mexican” and The Ring junior welterweight champion; at the other end stood Jose Luis Castillo, the former holder of The Ring lightweight championship, “El Temible” from Mexicali.

    It was perfect. When their eyes met in that epochal moment, Ennio Morricone’s bewitching, operatic score in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly should have echoed in the distance, with guitar riffs and the wild howl of the coyote, while the restaurant fell silent, so that a bead of sweat could be heard to drop on the hard floor.

    The look on the protagonists’ faces, strong and intense as their eyes narrowed, might have yielded to a short exchange of dialogue: Hey, gringo, I smell death in your town … If you were to kill me now, Tuco, you’d always be poor, just like the greasy rat you are. Then Bad Bob Arum would have burst in to prevent a premature showdown: Guys, we can do this some other time. Now could we please just eat and fiesta? Slowly, as a Mariachi band started to play in the corner, Hatton and Castillo would have walked away, with the tension building toward a final shootout, but not before Castillo had glanced across his shoulder and made his intentions clear: Angel eyes, see you in hell. Regretfully, old Sergio never got to direct this scene.

    Instead, Hatton and Castillo played it out in a way that demonstrated the deep reservoir of mutual respect that exists between these avowed warriors. On June 23 they will engage at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas in the most eagerly anticipated 140-pound fight since Hatton won the title from Kostya Tszyu in June 2005, but they were all smiles and bonhomie when they came together in February to publicize their showdown. Castillo came with his wife, Kariella, because he does not like to fly and they made their five-day break into a second honeymoon on their 15th wedding anniversary, which Hatton was only too willing to toast when they met in the restaurant.

    “My camp had actually arranged for them to be taken out and I happened to be out in Manchester, so I popped over to see them,” Hatton explained a couple of days later at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. “We had a few drinks, the way grownups should. I kept up my acquaintance with Mr. Guinness and he downed several glasses of wine. When two great fighters are going to meet each other, there’s no need for all the shouting and staring down. We know we are going to war, but that doesn’t mean we have to hate each other. I found Jose to be a very pleasant man, although whatever way the fight goes, I think I could have drunk him under the table. We didn’t get the chance to find out because when I suggested that we might go on to a club he said, ‘No,’ and looked at me in a way that was almost like, ‘You must be joking.’ I actually got the impression that he might have gone for it, but he was with his wife and she must have told him there was no way he was going out with a lunatic like me. So, come four o’clock, while I was giving it plenty on the karaoke, he was tucked up in bed. Maybe that’s where I should have been too, but I’m 28 years old and unbeaten after 42 fights, so I don’t feel that I have to change my ways.”

    These ways were described in detail in his recently published autobiography, The Hitman: My Story, in which he wrote: “I love going out and I love a pint. There. What is the problem with that? If I went out every night getting sloshed, I wouldn’t be a world champion boxer, so I don’t really need to say any more than that … I am not a shrinking violet who lives a quiet life. I go to some places where people don’t expect me to be, but that is only because I don’t shy away from going out at all. Why should I? When I am in training, I live like a monk, so when I am not in training, I like to let my hair down.”

    He joked before his most recent title defense in January against Colombian Juan Urango that Castillo has “the same disease I have, a problem with his legs, he can’t walk past chippies,” but the reality is that both these men will have prepared well. Hatton was dominating for the most part against Urango, but the spectacle was never scintillating. Although tough and hard-fought, too many of the rounds were tedious, punctuated by so much holding that there was cause for “clinch stats” as much as “punch stats.”

    By a considerable distance, Hatton prevailed on points, but he appeared to become seriously fatigued by the effort he had to put in over the late rounds. Whether this was an ominous sign of his lifestyle beginning to catch up with him or merely a symptom of the “sniffles” that afflicted him in the days following his arrival in Vegas remains to be seen, but it was not the kind of overpowering performance for which Hatton has rightly become revered.
    Castillo, however, performed far worse in the chief supporting bout. Hermann Ngoudjo, an unbeaten but unheralded Cameroonian, was stepping up several leagues, yet the 33-year-old Mexican struggled to impose himself from the outset. He was repeatedly stunned by hard blows to the jaw, and, if Ngoudjo had gone all out in search of a stoppage, as he should have done, Castillo might have been beaten.

    As it was, some observers at ringside regarded him as fortunate that the he managed to eke out a points victory by split decision, and the evidence suggested that he may be a fighter worn out by too many wars. The stoppage he suffered in the 10th round against Diego Corrales in 2005 was the culmination of a sensational, savage, and relentless battle, and, although he avenged this defeat, his years of battling the scales have further abused his body. Castillo’s rationale that he was affected by an 11-month layoff and poor motivation may bear credence, but Ngoudjo was a 16-fight novice and Castillo had the bearing for too many rounds of a fighter in decline.

    “Both of them were a little disappointing, but there were factors to explain this,” Arum emphasized afterward. “Castillo had not boxed for a year and this was a lively, ambitious kid he fought. Ricky was also in the ring with a strong guy, and this was his first fight in the main event in Las Vegas, which makes it tough to give your best. When these guys fight on June 23, we will see the best of both of them. Castillo needed this fight and Ricky was coming back down to 140 pounds [having climbed to the 147-pound welterweight division to beat Luis Collazo for the WBA title in May 2006]. The key for both fighters is that they don’t balloon up in weight before they go to training camp. I’ll be watching out for my guy and I suggest that Hatton’s people should do the same for him.”

    Hatton’s win against Urango was celebrated in the traditional way, on board a cruise of the Caribbean with his family, and the food and drink was good and plentiful. But some concessions appeared to be made for a fight that Hatton conceded, “will probably be the toughest of my life.” He insisted that he would not balloon up in weight to take on quite the same degree that he did between the Collazo and Urango bouts, and he also got down to the hard work early.

    “I’m proud to say that people are beginning to talk of me in the same breath as heroes of mine, like Nigel Benn and Barry McGuigan, as among the greatest boxers ever to come out of Britain,” he said. “I also believe that I’m still on course to fulfill my dream of becoming the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I’m not going to change the way I live, but I compensate for it by spending longer in training camp before a fight, 11 to 12 weeks as opposed to the normal seven or eight that most other fighters spend in the gym. That way I take the weight off correctly and I feel strong going into the fight. I was heavier than usual when I started camp before my last fight because I had such a long layoff. The busier I am, the less time I have to put the weight on, but I also appreciate the enormity of this fight, so I’ll be ready, make no mistake about it.

    “This is as big as my fight with Kostya Tszyu, if not bigger. These are the kinds of fights that get you in the Hall of Fame. I’ve taken some criticism for my two most recent performances, but no fighter can produce fireworks every time. This fight, however, cannot fail to be explosive because of the way we both are. I don’t take a backward step and neither does Castillo. It will be a harder fight, tactically, than Tszyu because Castillo’s got a very good jab and, for a big man, he has a good set of hooks to the body, so he might try to give me a bit of my own medicine. Against Kostya, I just had to go out and put the pressure on, no matter what he threw back. It was hard to do, though it wasn’t the most complicated of plans. I just had to be brave. But I won’t be able to do that against Castillo. I’ll have to be cleverer and use a lot more weapons. Having said that, I might just get hit and be dragged into a war with him, and what a war that could be.”

    When he first began in boxing, Hatton dreamt of being involved in fights like this and sometimes he cannot believe that he has come so far in such a short space of time. “Four years before I beat Kostya I came to Vegas to watch him knock out Zab Judah,” he recalled. “We were checking out of the hotel the next morning when I saw Kostya leaving and I told my trainer, Billy Graham, that I wanted to congratulate him. ‘Hey, Kostya, my name’s Ricky Hatton from Manchester,’ I said. He shook my hand and looked at me. ‘Do you want an autograph?’ he asked because he didn’t have a clue who I was. ‘No, I’m on the fringe of the top 10 in the world rankings and I’d like to fight you one day,’ I told him. I knew what he was thinking as he turned away, so I thought I’d show him. ‘We’re going to get a Hummer and act like big shots,’ I told Billy. The Hummer pulled up, we chucked our bags in and, just as Kostya was stepping into a mini-van, I waved over. Again, I knew what he was thinking.

    “Anyway, by the time we stopped showing off, made our way to the airport, and had a few drinks at the bar, we missed our flight. ‘How much have you got, Billy?’ He said he had $30 and I had $20, just enough money to get a room for the night in the worst motel in Las Vegas. The soap was on a chain, and me and Billy had to sleep together in a single bed. So we’ve come a long way since them days, the pair of us. Now my name’s up in lights in Vegas alongside Celine Dion and Tom Jones—and Billy even has his own room.”

    The only room to be in on June 23 will be at the Thomas & Mack. Even Sergio Leone might have been proud to put together such a climactic scene.

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    Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Under the Radar: Ricky Hatton’s Superfight with Jose Luis Castillo Going Unnoticed
    By Peter “The Emperor” Stitt
    Ringside Report.com

    Some fights capture the imagination of the media and of the public whilst other float by unnoticed. In 2005, when Ricky Hatton beat Kostya Tszyu and then went on to be voted America’s “Fighter of the Year,” it seemed the likeable lad from Manchester had the world at his feet. At that point a fight with recently deposed lightweight king Jose Luis Castillo would have been huge news. Now the two are meeting and the event has hardly made any impression in the media and, if the fight is starved of the oxygen of publicity, how does the average sports fan become enthusiastic about it? What has caused a potentially massive match up to be relegated in the international consciousness to the level of any old world title fight?

    Hatton’s recent performances have hardly been scintillating and he, himself, is very aware of the fact. Points decisions over Luis Collazo and Juan Urango may have been relatively decisive but they didn’t set the world on fire. And what has Castillo been doing since he won his return with Diego Corrales in October 2005? He won a points decision against Rolando Reyes and then squeezed by with a split decision victory over Herman Ngoudjo for the NABF Light-Welterweight Title on the same night Hatton fought the rugged Urango. Rightly or wrongly, there has been a shift in the perception of the masses in their judgement of the two fighters and they are now being regarded as either “shopworn” or having shown false promise in the past.

    Hatton-Castillo is happening in the wake of Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya and possibly in advance of a Joe Calzaghe-Mikkel Kessler unification bout. The average punter who is not an interested fight fan could not have failed to notice the hype for De La Hoya’s defense against Mayweather and can only be expected to reach into their pocket to pay for so many fights. Oscar has made fans of Americans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans with his affable comments about their countries whilst Castillo is Mexican and Hatton is a Brit. It is not racist to get more motivated about watching one of your fellow countrymen fight for a world title and this may be an element in the States.

    Another possible factor in making this fight less of a blockbuster is the issue of exposure. In Britain, Ricky Hatton’s recent fights have all been on PPV and the Castillo match is no exception. This means that the vast majority of British viewers do not have access to his fights whilst Joe Calzaghe appears regularly on the ITV network, free of charge to all who care to watch. Calzaghe’s profile is enormous in the UK whilst Hatton’s is diminishing due to lack of exposure and only boxing fans here have any idea who Castillo is. It is no coincidence that Mike Tyson, fighting regularly on ITV turned him into the best known fighter in Britain since Muhammad Ali. The big money comes through the PPV deals but the legacy in the popular psyche is made on the networks. Tyson became a part of the times in which he fought in the minds of normal people, a fighter on cable or satellite can never make such a deep impression on the fabric of a nation’s culture.

    Things have got so bad for Ricky Hatton in the perception department that Nigel Benn has come out swinging in defense of the light-welter champ. Demanding respect for Hatton in an interview for the Manchester Evening News, Benn said "I am sad for Ricky, because he is a class act. He is one of the best body-punchers ever seen in this country, and I just wish we could see more of him. He's the kind of fighter that has that `wow' factor that gets you on the edge of your seat.” Note the reference to “I just wish we could see more of him.” which must surely be a reference to the PPV situation? Benn continued: “Castillo is the kind of fight he needs now, because his last two fights have not been the best. He went in with Juan Urango last time out in Vegas, and the guy was like a mini-Mike Tyson; muscles on his muscles. Ricky fought the right fight. He didn't have to mix it with someone like that, he just stayed out of the way and then bang-bang-bang, made sure he won the fight. It was smart, nothing else, like when he fought Ben Tackie in Manchester."

    Referring to the “disappointment” of recent Hatton outings Benn astutely observed “Everyone expects him to produce every time. When you produce every time, you end up with a very short career and Ricky knows his time will come to an end, maybe after another three or four fights, you will always get that. When he beat Tszyu people were singing his praises. Now he has two dodgy fights and it's the opposite." Benn is very aware of how fickle the British media and public can be and his all-action approach helped shield him from most of negative perception but there were many who “wrote him off” following his loss to Michael Watson. He subsequently won world titles at two different weights. Hatton is no less capable as a fighter at this stage in his career.

    So where is it all going wrong for Ricky Hatton? He’s an unbeaten fighter who has stopped an all-time great and won titles in two weight divisions, when he appears on British TV people “warm” to him, he should be riding high. Well as a Marketer I would advise Hatton to consolidate what he has got already with some fights in Britain and to make sure they are on terrestrial TV with a satellite link so there is a live broadcast to the States. He’s a blue collar kid and there’s no disgrace in ensuring your fights are shown the old blue collar way. This would increase his pulling power in Britain and increase the money available for Hatton fights here. That then opens up the possibility of attracting some lucrative American fighters to challenge Ricky on home soil.

    Hatton has shown courage in being willing to fight in the States but long-term business considerations should guide the Mancunian hero back home to re-establish his home based following. At the moment Ricky is aimlessly and pointlessly “calling out” the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Junior and they have bigger fish to fry in terms of PPV sales (each other in fact) but, given a higher profile in his homeland, he may be able to generate the cash required to tempt larger American names across the pond. At present Ricky is in danger of becoming invisible to the British public.

    Ricky Hatton is one hell of a fighter and he is well capable of unifying the light-welterweight division, a logical step for someone seeking to sell and ensure his legacy is rich. WBA Champ Souleymane M’baye, WBC champ Junior Witter, WBO champ Ricardo Torres, IBF champ Lovemore Ndou, none of them have records to compare to Hatton’s. If Hatton went on a shopping trip of the elite in the division he would be raising his profile and his bargaining power. Whilst all of us prayed for years that the power of the alphabet boys would be diminished, none of us wanted a situation in which the fighters themselves decided they were the best in a division and behaved as though the other contenders were somehow not worthy of a shot at them. Calzaghe and Hatton have shown scant respect for alphabet belts.

    Manny Pacquiao is the virtually universally recognized best fighter at super featherweight without holding a single senior world title belt. It’s almost as though the Ring title has become the most significant without the folks at the Ring having the bottle to take responsibility and make it official and this is allowing some fighters to manipulate the situation, Calzaghe’s dismissal of Mikkel Kessler’s WBA and WBC Titles being the most obvious example. I would love to see one junior welterweight world champion and I think most boxing fans feel the same way, Hatton would have so much more clout at the bargaining table if he “owned” his own division.

    So the situation at present is this. Ricky’s stock went through the roof when he stopped Kostya Tszyu, it has fallen since, that’s the bottom line. He needs to go back to basics, beating people up in front of a larger British and American public and the light welters are just ripe for the Hitman.

    I’ve not spoken much about Jose Luis Castillo up to now and the reason is that he is the challenger and so accepts less responsibility for a failure to promote a fight. He’s lost by stoppage five times and two times on points to Pretty Boy so, if Hatton doesn’t do a number on him, he can kiss any remote possibility of a fight with Floyd goodbye. Hatton with Floyd and Oscar is similar to Calzaghe with Taylor, Hopkins and Roy Jones, whistling in the wind given current circumstances.

    Can Ricky Hatton turn everything around at the age of twenty-eight? In the ring he has done nothing wrong, he’s unbeaten. His personality is a winner with any audience it comes into contact with. As a Marketer I would love the brief, Ricky Hatton should be easy to promote. So what has gone wrong with this promotion? Hatton’s last two performances have not helped and Castillo struggling with Ngoudjo in his last fight has now reduced what was originally envisioned as a “superfight” to the level of “any old world title fight” for an established world champion defending against a smaller guy moving up in weight. Overall though, the event is completely overshadowed by the media circus that was De La Hoya-Mayweather. That is simply bad business planning when the fight could have been made earlier or later. Whoever is pulling the strategic strings in the Hatton camp is moving so slowly that an unbeaten fighter is not getting the breaks his fighting ability and personality warrant. Back to basics Ricky.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I am really looking forward to this fight. I see it as a war with neither fighter giving an inch. I think this could be a great great fight. Full on all action in which the stronger, rougher and slightly better conditioned Hatton breaks Castillo down from 10-12 rds for a late TKO....

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    Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Castillo looks for redemption

    By Robert Morales
    15 Rounds.com

    It's a year ago this month that Jose Luis Castillo failed to make weight for the second consecutive time for a scheduled lightweight title fight in Las Vegas against the late Diego Corrales. Unlike the first time, when Castillo and Corrales fought anyway and Castillo knocked out Corrales in the fourth round of what became a non-title fight, the second failed weigh-in resulted in the cancellation of the fight.

    Castillo was then socked with a $250,000 fine by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and suspended the rest of the year. He also was not allowed to sign for any future fight under the super lightweight limit.

    Castillo, of Mexico, is really feeling the sting. According to his Mexican promoter, Fernando Beltran, Castillo still owes "about $100,000" to the commission. Keith Kizer, executive director of the commission, on Tuesday confirmed that amount. And he said that one way or another, Castillo will have to pay off the rest before he will be allowed to step into the ring against Ricky Hatton on June 23 in the super lightweight main event at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

    Kizer said Castillo's purse for that fight will be $500,000. Castillo spoke recently about the aforementioned series of events that have deeply affected him and his loved ones.

    "It was very embarrassing. I let a lot of people down and that did not make me feel good," said Castillo, who has fought once since the debacle, narrowly defeating up and coming Herman Ngoudjo last January at Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. "I am just glad I'm getting this opportunity to make it up to them – my family, my fans and everyone that has always supported me."

    Include Castillo's U.S. promoter, Bob Arum, among those supporters. He is not happythat the commission came down so hard on Castillo.

    "It was a devastating blow," Arum said. "It's not like this kid flaunts the rules. He tried everything he could to make weight, but his body wouldn't let him. For the Nevada commission to suspend him the way they did, and fine him $250,000, is just unconscionable."

    Kizer responded to Arum's rather harsh remark. "He is entitled to his opinion," said Kizer, who said the commission took everything into account before handing down its punishment. "We are a government agency and we believe in freedom of speech."

    Unlike Arum, Beltran did not complain about the severity of the penalties given Castillo. But he did say that his fighter would like to how the $250,000 is going to be used.

    "The only thing that upsets Castillo is that he doesn't know what the money is going for," Beltran said. "He would like to know if it is going to children who have cancer, or a very good charity. Even though we are definitely saying that it's our fault and we are willing to pay the $250,000 fine, and we know it's a penalty, we would like to know where the money is going."

    Fair enough, Kizer said.

    "All the fines go to the general fund of the state of Nevada for various things," he said.

    "Education, roads, health care, a million different things."

    Bottom line, it is what it is. Castillo, 33, could whine about his situation, or he could do something about it. A victory over Hatton would go a long way in bringing the former lightweight champion some financial security because he would reap the monetary benefits future big fights would bring.

    "It was a very huge hit financially, but there is nothing I can do about it now," Castillo said. "I hope to still get some big fights before I retire and I hope that I get rewarded well for them.

    "I want to fight a couple of more years, but I just want to be in meaningful fights with something at stake and that pay well."

    A loss to Hatton (42-0, 30 KOs) would put a wrench into those plans. And since Castillo didn't exactly look like a world-beater in his victory over Ngoudjo, that is a very real possibility. Ngoudjo, of Canada, had just 15 fights when he took on Castillo. But he was 15-0.

    "I was coming from a long layoff, and it showed," Castillo said. "It was a tough fight, but I was happy for the work and the victory."

    Whatever happens a week from Saturday, Castillo (55-7-1, 47 KOs) said he expects nothing less than a vicious fight with Hatton. HBO will televise.

    "I have seen tapes of Ricky Hatton and if he fights like he usually does, I expect a big brawl in the middle of the ring, just like Corrales and I had in the first one," said Castillo, referring to Corrales' 10th-round technical knockout of him in May 2005.

    "Ricky Hatton is a good fighter and he likes to fight. He is fast and very strong. It will be a great fight and I will come up with a victory. And it probably won't go the distance."

  7. #7
    Roberto Aqui
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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I favor Hatton over a slightly worn out Castillo. You've got to be a slick boxer or extremely powerful puncher to beat Hatton, or at least a hellacious cut.

    That said, I really think Hatton might start suffering by continuing to squeeze in at this weight class. He will be remembered fondly by boxing, but he needs to be fighting Cotto and Mayweather, not Castillo who will likely be just another scalp for his record. It is an entertaining fight though, and if it gives him more confidence and marketing leverage to make the above fights, well, great.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I've been waffling over this fight for months.

    I believe Hatton has the edge in speed & endurance whereas Castillo has the edge in power & smarts. In saying that, I think Hatton has a better chance to win this fight at range than the attack most expect him to use against Castillo. Both do their best work from close range but I think Hatton has an edge on the outside game.

    I don't buy that Castillo is all that shot and I think he will look good against Hatton should Hatton elect to slug it out. I am concerned how Hatton was visibly bothered by fighters who did not have the punch Castillo has. I would like to attribute that to not being on his best behavior & was looking ahead of his fights since with Tsyzu he was very smart and took Tsyzu's power well but I'm not so sure.

    If Hatton buys into a perimeter game most of the night I expect a Hatton SD-UD. If Hatton wants to gamble & go toe-to-toe, it will be a great fight but I'm leaning towards a late stoppage by Castillo. Hatton has some power as evidenced in his one-punch KO of the normally durable Maussa but I doubt he can leverage the power Corrales did on Castillo.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    diggity - I too have been thinking about how Urango REALLY shook Ricky up to the belly in the 5th round of their fight which precipitated Ricky The Manchester John Ruiz Hatton taking over from the Manchester Mexican.

    Tszyu dropped Hatton with a shot on the belt in about the 7th round of their fight together on the inside that was ruled low (another thing along with the greatest left hook to the balls in a title fight this side of Duran Buchanan that irks me about that victory over Tszyu).

    These things make me think that Hatton may not take to focussed body punishment as well as he dishes it out - Which also has symptoms in his in between bout weights.

    I'm sure that Hatton has trained hard and I too instictively lean toward his seemingly fresher and younger legs over Castillo - But I also can't help thinking of a Castillo performance ala Lazcano, with Castillo grinding Hatton down with educated body punching and busting him up with left hooks.

    I also think the perception of Hatton winning from the outside pretty much comes down to how well he can maintain distance - He has managed against other guys - But if Castillo can cut off the ring on Floyd Mayweather Jnr, he can cut off Hatton.

    I think I just really WANT Castillo to win...A very interesting fight, but I really am concerned if Castillo hurts Hatton to the body early it turns into a jab and grab fest...

  10. #10
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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    No More "Explanations," Hatton Better Impress
    By Michael Woods from Sweet Science

    It’s put up or shut up time for Ricky Hatton.

    Check that, Hatton’s a loveable lad, a salt of the earth type, a solid representative for the sport. He doesn’t deserve to be targeted with such stark, impolite language.

    Let’s switch the terminology, shall we, and instead say that it is high time Ricky Hatton supply his considerable legion of fans with a superlative performance when the Manchester Mauler steps in with Jose Luis Castillo at the Thomas and Mack Center on June 23rd in Las Vegas.


    On that night, Hatton must deliver the sort of performance he promised us we’d get in his last fight (a snoozy decision win over Juan Urango in January), the sort of performance we took for granted would be the norm when he shoved then pound-for-pounder Kostya Tszyu into retirement two years ago.

    Otherwise, we’re going to have strip Hatton (42-0, 30 KOs) of his nickname, Hitman, and probably, place him into the What Might’ve Been category.

    Before you hit that “send” button, Hatton acolytes, before you blow out our bandwidth with a spamload of expletive laden protests, hear me out.

    I concede that Hatton is undefeated. He’s 42-0, fer cripes sake, so how can I argue with even minimal credibility that Hatton hasn’t panned out? Well, Hitman himself touched on that theme in a Thursday conference call to hype his showdown with Castillo (55-7-1, 44 KOs), the second-most dangerous foe he’s faced since turning pro in 1997.

    “My achievements have been better than my performances in my last two fights,” he told reporters.

    Those last two fights, a middling show against Luis Collazzo (UD12) in May 2005, and another UD12 against Juan Urango, featured far less of the always-getting-angles, no-reverse-gear Hatton that threatened to become a PPV attraction in 2005. The Hitman explained the reasons for the sub-scintillating showings.

    “They were both southpaws, and against Collazzo I went up in weight (to 147 from 140), and Urango didn’t give much opportunity to hit. This fight against Castillo is more my type of fight, I think it’s similar to the Tszyu fight. Castillo holds his ground more. It’s the type of fight I shine in.”

    Hatton, who came in to Vegas earlier on this occasion than he did in his first Vegas trip, said that he watched the Cotto/Judah scrap on the tube.

    Will he and Castillo be as entertaining?

    “I’d say it’ll be a better fight,” he said. “I do best against people that don’t take a backward step. Castillo and Diego Corrales had the fight of the century, and any fight that can beat that in styles, it’s me and Castillo. I want to be in a Castillo/Corrales type fight, that people will be watching years down the line.”

    This line of thinking from Hatton bodes well for fans who have felt gypped by Hatton’s arc since he shocked Tszyu and the boxing world with his dedicated viciousness against the Aussie. He is thinking about his legacy, understanding full well that his days in the sport are numbered. Hatton turns 29 in October and in his weight range, with his style of fighting, he’s winding down.

    To insure a versus-Tszyu level performance, Hatton spent more time in the sauna-level heat in Vegas this time, as opposed to when he met Urango, and holed up in hotels, basking in the AC. (“I’ve been roasting here, absolutely roasting,” he told an English reporter on the call). Hatton came into town five days earlier than last time, and, he reports, his brother Matt and his sparring crew tell him he’s looked sharper than ever while prepping. Hatton is also hopeful, he said, that he won’t contract a cold, as he did the week before meeting the 17-0 Colombian in January. That weakened him in the last third of his fight, he said.

    Hatton expects Castillo, the Mexican who at 33 ½ is also winding it down, to be in the best shape possible mental and physical shape.

    “I expect him to be training harder than ever before, because a win against me he’s headed to so many big money matchups and a loss, it may be his last chance. I’d be shellshocked if he didn’t make weight.”

    Hatton doesn’t think there’s much of a chance that Castillo won’t hit the 140 pound mark, and will be defeated by the scale (as he was for the second Corrales fight, which took place even though Castillo didn’t come close to the 135 pound mark). And, he said, he doesn’t regard Castillo as the fighter who looked ordinary against 15-0 Herman Ngoudjo in January: “In the back of his mind, he might’ve thought all he had to do was show up.”

    Hatton said reports that Castillo didn’t think much of his resume didn’t piss him off, and reminded callers that he handled his P4P test (Tszyu), while Castillo couldn’t ace his exams against the P4P stalwart (PBF): “Saturday, Castillo’s gonna realize I’m the real deal.”

    Hatton did default to a defensive mode when asked about his lessening movement, and his lacking resume in comparison to Castillo. He thought he was Lord of the Dance-like against Urango through six rounds, he stated, and labeled a question about deteriorating movement as “strange.” But he is definitely aware that he needs not only to beat Castillo, but do it in definitive, and engaging fashion.

    “The smart money’s on a twelve round war,” Hatton said, virtually promising a back-and-forth tussle, perhaps even a Fight of the Year candidate.

    At this point, we can still label Hatton’s reasons for not looking stellar recently as “explanations.”

    He is after all, undefeated, and likeable.

    He deserves that measure of grace.

    But if he loses to Castillo, or looks sluggish in a win, those “explanations” will be dismissed as “excuses.”

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    Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Hatton by attrition or Castillo by violence

    By Bart Barry
    15 Rounds.com

    If an Aztec warrior found prestige in overwhelming and capturing a string of noble prisoners . . . the British system accentuated formation, drill, and order. – Victor Davis Hanson, “Carnage and Culture”

    Looking forward to this Saturday’s junior-welterweight fight between England’s Ricky Hatton and Mexico’s Jose Luis Castillo, we might consider some cultural differences between Englishmen and Mexicans. One of these differences, as implied by military historian Victor Davis Hanson, is the way their societies traditionally measure glory.

    The crowd that fills Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas this weekend, partaking of the finest “HBO World Championship Boxing” card of 2007 thus far, will be composed mostly of fight-crazed Brits and difficult-to-please Mexicans. And whatever Saturday’s outcome, the Brits are as likely to be content as the Mexicans are to be dissatisfied.

    That is, Ricky Hatton can clench his way to a decision victory and yet be embraced for winning. Hatton can also win a furious donnybrook or lose by knockout and be appreciated for his show of courage. Jose Luis Castillo, on the other hand, must win in brutal fashion to remain on his countrymen’s list of favorite fighters.

    Part of this can be explained by where the two men are in their careers. Hatton is an undefeated English wunderkind. Castillo is a Mexican with seven losses, in a division between Erik Morales at lightweight and Antonio Margarito at welterweight. But part of these disparate expectations can also be attributed to the country each represents.

    Every culture has to wrestle with its definition of battlefield glory – whether it celebrates the soldier or the warrior. The soldier fights in formation with others, obeys orders and values his own life. The warrior demonstrates personal heroism, wreaks havoc on his enemy and generally cares little for his own well-being. Whichever way a culture chooses, soldier or warrior, that choice seasons all its people, especially its athletes.

    In this Saturday’s prizefight, of course, each man will be alone and expected to show great personal courage. But Ricky Hatton, as the product of a culture that embraces the soldier before the warrior, is better prepared to win by attrition.

    Jose Luis Castillo, meanwhile, comes from a culture that embraces the warrior before the soldier. Castillo is expected to fight without regard for his personal safety. He is also likely to see a decision loss to an opponent who does not fight with him as hardly a loss at all. And then there’s the matter of bending rules.

    Despite their famous chivalry, the English tend to live by a maxim that says all good fights are dirty. In his defining win against Kostya Tszyu, Ricky Hatton employed tactics that were charitably called “roughhouse” but might have been called illegal. Mexican fighters, conversely, see a rule-bending act as a confession of inferiority.

    Still, this fight, like most, may simply turn on who has the greater will to win. But that’s a tricky question, too.

    Since defeating Tszyu and becoming the world’s recognized junior-welterweight king, Ricky Hatton has come to America, won a questionable decision against welterweight Luis Collazo and won a boring decision, back at junior-welterweight, against Juan Urango. In the last two years, Hatton has mostly gotten by on his victory over Tszyu and his charm.

    Ricky Hatton’s record, though, remains unblemished. Even if he hasn’t won over too many American fans, he hasn’t lost many British fans either. So long as he remains undefeated and continues to fight opponents of Castillo’s caliber, Hatton will remain a draw – no matter how he wins.

    Jose Luis Castillo is in a different position. Since his first fight with the late Diego Corrales, Castillo has struggled with his weight before knocking-out Corrales in their rematch, won a sparring session with Rolando Reyes, struggled with his weight enough to knock-out the scheduled rubber match with Corrales and won a questionable decision against Herman Ngoudjo.

    According to his manager, Castillo still owes $100,000 of the $250,000 the Nevada State Athletic Commission fined him for causing the cancellation of his third fight with Corrales. And despite his promoter Bob Arum’s statements of support, if Castillo loses Saturday night, there’s some doubt as to how many more times Castillo will fight under Arum’s Top Rank banner.

    Castillo needs big money and a big victory to remain relevant to his fans and promoter. These factors will make him fight like a bobcat, right? Maybe. But there’s another cultural component that could come in to play Saturday night. Call it stoic resignation. It’s a thing the Mexican people have mastered through a history of crises.

    As long as Ricky Hatton stands in the center of the ring and wings punches at Castillo, Saturday night, Castillo will fight to unconsciousness, at least. But if Hatton begins to hold more than fight, if Hatton gives Castillo time to think about his situation, in other words, there’s a good chance Castillo will resign himself to defeat – no longer caring if he wins.

    Then should we expect a wicked scrap that surprises even serious fans with its violence, or a dull mugging that one man doesn’t care if he loses? The answer to that question is yes. Chances are, Saturday night will begin frantically and end dully. If Ricky Hatton stands toe-to-toe with Jose Luis Castillo, without holding Castillo, Hatton may not make it to the final bell.

    But the odds of Hatton making such a tactical mistake are long. Instead, expect Hatton to fight like a warrior, engaging the Mexican warrior across from him, until things go badly. After that, expect a soldier-like performance from Hatton, holding and grappling his way to victory.

    Over time, soldiers tend to beat warriors, so I’ll take Hatton: SD-12.

  12. #12
    Roberto Aqui
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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    From Fightnews: "For all of the great fights [Castillo] he’s been in, and the reputation he’s built all for being such a great fighter, if he doesn’t make the weight for this fight, he won’t be remembered for what he’s done in the ring, he’ll be remembered for what he’s done on the scales, which he knows he can’t afford to do," stated Hatton.
    ----------------
    Now that's some funny stuff. I'll bet Ricky is a blast to hoist English Ale with.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    A couple of years ago this had great fight written all over it; it was also a significant fight between two of the perceived best fighters in the game.

    It may well still be an exciting fight but for me both fighters seem to be in a rather rapid decline and I dont belive either belong in the top ten P4P at this point. In Castillo's case age and weight making difficulties looked to have taken their toll in the last fight and Ricky has done nothing since Tszyu to impress me. In fact hatton seems to have less power, less stamina and less speed than he had before he won the title.

    In short, this was a fight that would have had me salivating not so long ago. Now I'm finding it hard to feel anything but relative indifference. I think Ricky wins on points but labours in doing so.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I only saw one fight of hattons and that was his last. I was very disappointed. punch and hold, punch and hold. I think castillo is too cagey for hatton and scores enough to win. hopefully judges score fight correctly.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    This Hitman Wears Baby Blue
    By TK Stewart


    Nobody told Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton that real hitmen are supposed to wear black.

    And even if they had, it probably wouldn’t have made any difference. Hatton, who is getting ready to face the tough as nails Mexican Jose Luis Castillo on Saturday night in Las Vegas, has made a career of doing things his own way, knocking guys out – and wearing baby blue colored trunks.

    If the diminutive Hatton was as good with his feet as he is with his fists he would have likely become a professional soccer player. They call it “football where he comes from and he loves his Manchester City football club. So much so that he enters the ring to the tune of their theme song, “Blue Moon” and their colors are his color – baby blue.

    He’s a small town boy from the countryside of England who still lives a stones throw from his parents’ home and he arrived in Las Vegas last week ahead of the big fight with Castillo. “This is where all the biggies fought,” said a beaming Hatton. “When I was growing up I watched Hagler and Hearns and Leonard and me hero Roberto Duran fight all those great fights in Vegas. I want to be a part of that.”

    His name is illuminated in neon lights along the famous Vegas strip and as a young lad flailing away on the bags in a seedy English gym he could only dream that he would one day find himself here.

    The temperatures of this Las Vegas spring have been blistering and the mercury has been routinely pushed into the triple digits. Surrounded by opulent casinos, palm trees and scantily clad suntanned bodies, Hatton, who is Englishman through and through, looks a little out of place.

    When he left England under partly cloudy skies the temperature was only in the mid-sixties. He has a youthful face, opaque skin and a positively zany sense of humor. He told The Guardian that it has been so hot in Sin City, “That I saw a tree chasing a dog the other day.”

    But Ricky Hatton can see past the mirage. He’s running with a very real 10-year unbeaten streak, he’s knocked out and likely retired the great Kostya Tszyu, he’s won world titles at 140 and 147 pounds and he possesses a sparkling record of 42-0 (30) KO’s. With Floyd Mayweather, Jr. begging off to retirement, many think that Hatton, who is headlining his third straight fight here in America, could make a strong case for being the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world if he can make it by Castillo.

    “I’m looking forward to fighting Castillo,” said Hatton. “That’s on me mind now. Styles make fights in the boxing game and this will be a good one because of our styles. You like a chess match watch De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. You like fighters who come to fight and will knock the shit out each other then you watch us two.”

    Jose Luis Castillo is another story entirely, at least from a climate standpoint . He turned pro as a 16 year-old boy and his early fights took place against grown men in the dusty rings that dot the Mexican countryside. Castillo is used to hot weather having been born in Mexicali, Mexico, and as HBO’s unofficial fight judge Harold Lederman once said of the oppressive heat in Mexicali, “That’s where the devil goes on vacation.”

    A veteran of 63 professional fights, Castillo made his name as a 135-pound lightweight and he was good enough to give Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fits for 24 rounds over two fights. Many still think it was Castillo that deserved the decision in the first fight.

    Then of course there was his epic first fight with the recently deceased Diego “Chico” Corrales that took place in Las Vegas in May 2005. It was, quite possibly, one of the greatest fights in boxing history and it was a fight that was savage as it was beautiful. Although Castillo lost that fight in the tenth round he knocked out Corrales in the rematch and Castillo’s prowess is spoken about now in revered terms. His name will forever be linked to Corrales’ as much as Cain to Abel and David to Goliath.

    At age 33, Castillo’s most significant problems have been in trying to make weight. He abandoned the lightweights, where he won the WBC title twice, to travel five pounds north to 140 pounds. For this fight with Hatton, he says he is ready.

    Last week, after a rigorous training session, Castillo told the Sunday Times of London that, “I like to suffer. This prepares me for war, which is what it will be when I face Ricky Hatton. I have the heart of a lion. This fight will end in a small death for Hatton.” Castillo should know a lot about punishment and small deaths. For years he was the great Julio Cesar Chavez’ main understudy.

    Nobody understands the implications of looking impressive in the fight against Castillo better than Hatton does. His first headline fight in America took place in May 2006 in Boston against southpaw Luis Collazo at 147 pounds. Hatton barely squeaked by Collazo and he was hurt late in the fight. His next fight, with Juan Urango in January 2007, was a quiet performance for Hatton and again he failed to impress American boxing fans in winning another decision. The fans here in the States had heard about the knockout puncher with the boyish zeal and the spring in his step and those that had seen him fight said he reminded them of Roberto Duran. But on U.S. soil – Hatton has failed to live up to his lofty expectations.

    “I was up at welterweight, and then I moved down to light welterweight,” says Hatton in his defense. “I had a couple of southpaw opponents. You know, Collazo is a big southpaw and Urango, southpaw again. Collazo threw so many punches, he didn’t give you much room. He didn’t give you as much as an opening for a spoon shot really. So, you know, really tricky awkward styles. This is more my kind of fight, I think, with Castillo it will be a similar to the Tszyu fight. Castillo holds his ground a little bit more, so it really is my type of fight. And I feel that the achievements have been a little better than the performances in my last two fights. I know I’ve got a lot better performances in me.”

    Hatton says he is now at his correct fighting weight after the one fight flirtation with 147 pounds and he’s used to fighting on the road now. He and his team arrived in Las Vegas 16 days before the fight to better acclimate to the time change and the weather. Hatton claims he’s whittled his skills to a fine point. “I’ve been walking around snarling for the last three weeks,” says Hatton. “I’ve not been like that for the last couple of fights.”

    Hatton has also had his own problems making weight but he says that for this fight it hasn’t been a problem. “I’ve trained for 12 hard rounds,” he said. “I’ve trained for just winning the fight the skin of my teeth. That’s the way you’ve always got to look at every fight, every time you step through the ring. That’s the way you’ve got a lock on it. But I mean, no, I mean I’ll be going out there for the knock out, and I think there’s a great chance that I can force that. But, you know, I’ve trained for 12 rounds of pain, really.”

    He’s a hero in England and now he’s looking to make himself a hero in America. When asked about the fans that are making the trip from England to support him, Hatton was appreciative. “Yes. I expect three times more to be there again. You know, I defy any fellow, any person in boxing to draw out a bigger crowd than me, at the minute, especially in England. I reckon if I was to go back to England for a homecoming, you know, to get an open air stadium now, what I’ve achieved since I fought Kostya Tszyu, I reckon, we could get 50, 60, 70,000 as daft as it sounds. But I believe there’s near 10,000 Brits who have purchased tickets in England that are coming over to watch the fight, which is over half the venue. So that’s absolutely fantastic. You know, to sell that type of numbers in your hometown would be a massive achievement, but to do it halfway across the world, you know, is actually incredible. It’s an exciting week and I won’t be letting them down.”

    And just for emphasis, Ricky Hatton will be wearing baby blue.

    TK Stewart is a 2005 and 2006 Boxing Writers Association of America Barney Award winner. He works for the Bangor Daily News & is also a regular poster on this board.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Still 'El Temible'?
    By Steve Kim from Max Boxing

    This Saturday night, from the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jose Luis Castillo takes on junior welterweight ruler Ricky Hatton. Back on January 20th, both men co-headlined a card at the Paris Hotel in the same city in anticipation of this showdown.

    While Hatton easily took care of the burly Juan Urango, Castillo hardly looked like the wrecking ball he was as a lightweight in struggling down the stretch to eke out a split decision victory over Herman Ngoudjo.

    "I think from 1-to-10, I'd probably give myself a seven," said Jose Luis Castillo, through Top Rank publicist Ricardo Jimenez, when asked to assess his performance in January.

    There seemed to be several things that troubled him that night, the fact he hadn't fought since February of 2006 (his 12 round snoozer against the reluctant Rolando Reyes), and having to wear 10-ounce gloves for the first time in his career.

    "I think the inactivity; I hadn't fought in over a year, almost. So that didn't help any. I think it was a tough fight because the opponent was tougher than I thought," he would admit. "I thought it was going to be a lot easier than that. But he turned out to be a real tough guy and both of those things affected me. The fact he was a tough guy and I hadn't fought in a while."

    Castillo, a career lightweight who moved up as a full-fledged 140-pounder for his last bout, was forced to wear larger gloves, with the Nevada State Athletic Commission's new edict declaring that any fighter above 135 pounds must wear 10 ounce mitts.

    He didn't find out about it until after the weigh-in.

    "I was very surprised when I heard about it, when I was told I had to wear 10-ounces. I was surprised and taken aback a little bit by it. During the fight, I knew I wasn't getting the impact I usually get when I hit somebody," he would say.

    But regardless, at 33 years old, there are questions if Castillo's best days are behind him. And moving up in weight, he no longer enjoys the significant advantages in size and strength he once did.

    "I feel at 140 I'm going to mature," he would state. "My body is going to be better, I'm going to be stronger at 140. I think overall it's going to be better for me. I'm going to be more effective and I feel good, real good, right now. I'm at 146, I got out of the gym and that's what I weighed."

    The issue of weighing in will always be a question now when it comes to Castillo based on recent history. Last year he was fined and suspended after failing to come anywhere near close to the lightweight limit for his scheduled rubbermatch with Diego Corrales. He says in retrospect the move up to 140 should've come much sooner.

    "Yeah, without a doubt, but we were having some great fights at 135, the money was there, the fights were there, we all thought we could still do it," said Castillo after his late afternoon workout in Tijuana on June 14th. "Obviously, looking back, that wasn't a smart thing to do. But I do feel I should've left 135 way before."

    The night of May 7th, 2005, will always be closely associated with Castillo, who engaged in one of the most memorable battles of all-time against Corrales, who would come off the canvas twice in the tenth frame (with the help of spitting out his mouthpiece) to come back and stunningly stop Castillo himself. It was one of boxing's truly great nights.

    But Corrales never seemed to be the same fighter afterwards. It seems a part of him was irrevocably damaged in the wake of that historic conflict. As for Castillo, while the decline wasn't as precipitous, it does seem like he has lost a bit off his fastball.

    "I don't feel anything from that fight," he claims. "It was a great fight, everyone enjoyed it. It made me what I am now and I think I feel great, physically. I'm just as strong as ever."

    Like everyone else in the boxing world, he was greatly saddened by the news of Corrales' death in early May.

    "I was shocked by it when I heard about it. I was really surprised someone that young, to go like that. It was very sad to hear that."

    Like Ali and Frazier, Zale and Graziano, Gatti and Ward, Catillo knows his name will always be connected to Corrales'.

    "It's something where I'll always be linked to him," he agrees. "You can't say one name without the other. We'll be hand-in-hand forever. It was someone I bonded with."

    Now, two years after his epic contest against Corrales, he gets a chance to reprise that memorable night against Hatton - if he comes to fight, not excessively hugging and clinching like he has in recent bouts.

    "We noticed that in the last few fights we watched on tape," he would say of Hatton's proclivity for mauling. "He does seem to be clinching more, holding more. It's different than what I remember from seeing him the first few times. You could see that in the Urango fight, he was doing that a lot."

    Castillo-Hatton is expected by many fans to be all-out war. But there is a chance, unfortunately, that they could be disappointed.

    "I think styles make fights," said Castillo, when asked what type of battle he expects from 'the Hit Man'. "And I think our styles, if we fight like we always do, it will be a great fight. But if he holds and does everything that he's done the last couple of fights, it will not be as entertaining as we all hope it will be."

    Castillo, for all his big wins - with Stevie Johnston, Cesar Bazan, Julio Diaz, Corrales, Juan Lazcano, Joel Casamayor and two tough battles in losing efforts against Floyd Mayweather - it seems has forever been overshadowed by the likes of his Mexican colleagues at the featherweight level, namely Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.

    "I believe so," says Jimenez, who between 1996 and 1999 was the sports editor at La Opinion, before coming aboard Top Rank in 2000. "In the northern part of Mexico he's very famous, everybody knows him. But once you go inside of Mexico, it's hard. He hasn't fought in Mexico in a long time. But they know him from when he was younger. He fought in Mexico City.

    "But there's no question about it, he has been overshadowed. He never had those big fights early in his career like he has now."

    Castillo was once known merely as a sparring partner for the great Julio Cesar Chavez. While it would be nearly impossible for any fighter to reach that status, perhaps a win over Hatton can put him in the elite stratosphere inhabited for so long by his stablemate, 'El Terrible'.

    "I think it's hard to say because Morales at his peak was fighting guys like Barrera and they were just huge in Mexico," Jimenez states. "Hatton, even though he might be well-known over here, is not really a known quantity in Mexico."

    But what a win over Hatton would do - especially if it would come in an exciting and compelling outing - is perhaps regain the support of those who so swore never to forgive him in the wake of last June's fiasco. The criticism that Castillo received, admittedly, bothered him, believing that the scorn was a bit gratuitous.

    "If it wouldn't have been up to me and I would've said, 'No, I don't want to lose the weight', it would've been one thing," he explains. "But I gave it everything I had. If everyone had been in my shoes, they don't even know what it feels like, having to lose all that weight and not be able to."

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Castillo, Hatton Fans Hoping For Train Wreck
    By David A. Avila from Sweet Science

    Usually Mexico’s Jose Luis Castillo would have the fan advantage whenever he fights in Las Vegas, but this time he’s fighting England’s Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton and his fans are legion.

    “I expect a wild crowd like those you get for a soccer game,” said Castillo. “A lot of chanting and screaming.”

    Just eliminate the other 10 guys from a soccer team and you have England’s and Mexico’s best fighter ready to contend for Hatton’s IBO junior welterweight title at the Thomas and Mack Center on Saturday June 23. The fight will be shown on HBO pay-per-view.

    Few boxing fans are as maniacal as the British and Mexican. When it comes to the term fanatical, that best expresses the rabid following fighters from those countries enjoy.

    “Ricky Hatton’s fans are just incredible,” said Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions.

    The last time Hatton (42-0, 30 KOs) fought in Las Vegas you would have thought the fight was in Piccadilly Circus, there were that many chanting Brits with their red white and blue t-shirts and flags.

    Does that scare Castillo?

    “I know he has a very big following and the arena will be full of British fans, but I also expect that there will be many Mexican fans in the stands to support me,” said Castillo (55-7-1, 47 KOs).

    Fans aside, now the world of boxing can witness the two very best junior welterweights in the world.

    Hatton represents the true king of the junior welterweights. Who can forget his stirring ramrod punching over Kostya Tszyu who had reigned as the prior lord of the 140-pounders for nearly a decade. Now comes Castillo whose never-go-backwards style has seldom been solved.

    “Castillo, I think, will be a similar fight to the Tszyu fight,” said Hatton during a telephone conference call.

    During that fight Hatton attacked the Siberian boxer with his British brand of legal mugging that Tszyu had never encountered before. Battered and swollen, Tszyu relinquished his title on the stool though he still had another round to try and retain his world championship.

    “Tszyu did give ground to try and walk me on to that big right hand,” said Hatton describing his fight against Tszyu in June 2005. “But I think Castillo will hold his ground a bit more.”

    Castillo and most Mexican fighters prefer to move forward, never backward. They see retreat as a form of surrender. A good example of Castillo’s style was seen against the late Diego Corrales two years ago. Neither fighter moved backward though each fired brain-wracking punches for 10 rounds.

    “Castillo-Corrales is a fight that people will be watching in year’s time,” said Hatton. “I want people talking about fights like that about Ricky Hatton in a few years time.”

    The pugnacious-looking Hatton fights like he looks. He prefers to engage his up-in-your face style that seldom leaves opponents enough room to breathe. Sometimes it includes hugging and holding if the referee allows it.

    “Hatton is a good fighter and likes to fight,” said Castillo, no shrinking violet himself. “I’m hoping I see the early version of Hatton and not the one that holds, clinches and hits.”

    In Hatton’s last match that took place in Las Vegas against Juan Urango of Colombia, the Hitman was more the holding man who grabbed and clinched his opponent for the last four rounds.

    Hatton said that was an aberration due to a head cold suffered before due to the air conditioning in Las Vegas.

    “It brought out a head cold in me the week of the fight,” Hatton said. “I think I run out of steam a bit.”

    Castillo, who prides himself on fighting toe-to-toe, relishes a passionate fight to the end kind of slugfest that brings out the fans. He loves throwing left hooks to the body and head and daring opponent’s to crack his granite chin.

    “If he (Hatton) fights like he usually does, I expect a brawl in the middle of the ring just like Corrales and I had in the first one,” said Castillo. “It would be like two trains colliding.”

    On Saturday, England and Mexico’s two human freight trains are colliding and boxing fans expect international impact like Castillo’s fight with Corrales in 2005.

    “Castillo’s fight against Diego Corrales was one of the fights of the century,” said Hatton. “I want to be able to be in one of them fights.”

    All aboard.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    'I know how to suffer and come through torture to win. Does Hatton?'
    The Mexican light welterweight Jose Luis Castillo insists he will knock out Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas on Saturday
    Brian Doogan from the London Times


    In sauna-like heat in a congested downtown gym, Jose Luis Castillo subjects himself to a familiar and torturous regime. “I like to suffer,” he says through an interpreter, smiling. “This prepares me for war, which is what it will be when I face Ricky Hatton.” The comparison is apt, for his sparring sessions are sometimes difficult to distinguish from the real thing, and against the world’s leading light welterweight he knows he will be engaged in furious frontline fighting from the first bell. “This is the way we fight, both of us, and I am ready,” Castillo says. “I have the heart of a lion. This fight will end in a small death for Hatton.”

    The phrase used by Mexicans to describe boxing’s most stunning climax, the knockout, which Castillo predicts he will inflict next weekend at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, is chillingly enhanced by close observation of the veteran warrior at work. But at 33, Castillo has begun to show signs that he is no longer the same fighter who harassed and hurt Floyd Mayweather before losing a controversial decision on points against the best practitioner of his trade on the planet five years ago.

    In his most recent performance in January he was sluggish against a fringe contender from Cameroon, Herman Ngoudjo, prevailing only by a split points decision that was disputed by many. Juan Lazcano, a compatriot and former opponent, described Castillo as “an ageing gunfighter down to his last bullets” and he is no longer in the top 10 of The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings. Yet in training, Castillo is punching with speed and authority. His combinations are delivered with surgeon-like precision and the body assault he learnt in his five years as chief sparring partner for Julio Cesar Chavez, Mexico’s most cherished and iconic fighter, induces expressions of pain even among the young aspirants gathered on the safe side of the ropes.

    Castillo’s weight, which was an issue even before he failed to make the lightweight limit of 9st 9lb for his rematch against the late Diego Corrales in October 2005, is good. At light welterweight (10st), he claims he is “much stronger” and he was comfortably inside the 11st limit stipulated by the World Boxing Council (WBC) for the 30-day check weigh-in, scaling 10st 7lb. His performance against Ngoudjo was an aberration, he insists, a consequence of having been out of the ring for 11 months before the bout and not being stimulated by an opponent whom he did not consider to be in his league. “This fight will be very different because I knew from the day the match was made that I would need to be focused against a guy like Hatton,” he declares at the end of his final spar.

    “Mentally, I am so tuned in to this fight. I couldn’t find the right distance against Ngoudjo and I felt slow. He hit me with punches I should never have had to take. But look at my record. I have been in the ring with Mayweather [former two-weight titleholder], Corrales, Joel Casamayor [a gold medallist at the 1992 Olympics and the WBC world lightweight champion]. I challenged Cesar Soto [a former WBC featherweight titleholder who went the distance with Naseem Hamed] for the Mexican title when I was 19. Hatton’s record just does not compare. He beat Kostya Tszyu to win the [world light welterweight] title, but Tszyu was there to be beaten, and what has Hatton done since? Carlos Maussa [whom Hatton stopped in the ninth round in November 2005], Luis Collazo [a southpaw who pushed the 28-year-old Manchester boxer in a close fight for the WBA welterweight belt] and Juan Urango [Hatton’s opponent in January when he laboured through 12 rounds for a second consecutive fight] are not elite-level fighters.

    “Hatton would have no chance of beating Mayweather because he would be too fast for him. I pushed Mayweather all the way twice and I should have won the decision [in their first encounter]. These are the points that are important, not my last fight.”

    Money concerns are also driving Castillo. After being stopped by Corrales in the 10th round of a classic toe-to-toe battle in May 2005 – “Corrales won because I celebrated after knocking him down for the second time in the 10th; I thought the fight was over, and emotionally, this drained me” – Castillo was unable to get down to the contracted weight limit in two subsequent meetings against his nemesis. Corrales agreed to an over-the-weight nontitle fight on the first occasion and was knocked out in the fourth round, but he refused do the same when Castillo came in too heavy again for what should have been their third and decisive showdown. The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Castillo and fined him $250,000, an outstanding $100,000 of which he must pay before he fights next weekend.

    As a child, he recalls being taken to arenas by his father, who boxed professionally, and climbing into the ring to shadow-box in between bouts on the undercard. “I was seven or eight and people would throw money at us as they watched me and some other kids work out. I liked this a lot,” he says. “In three of my early fights I got beaten, but I didn’t have the state of mind needed to be successful. The turning point was the influence of Cesar Chavez, who became my teacher. I learnt how to throw the hook to the body and how to be professional and have a strong mentality.”

    For years Castillo toiled on the fringes, barely eking out a living for himself, his wife and their two boys. Finally, a decade after he became a prizefighter, he outpointed America’s Stevie Johnston to win the WBC lightweight title, going on to establish himself as one of the most enduring fighters of his era. “He has a rock-solid chin [Castillo has never been knocked down in 63 fights],” notes Joe Goossen, who trained Corrales for his two bouts against Castillo. “He’s very good at manoeuvring his body and stifling a lot of what his opponent’s trying to do. Defensively, he’s solid and he has a tremendous punch. As a lightweight, he was very big, and he’s a big light welterweight. The extra few pounds will do him a lot of good.” When he and Hatton came together in February in Manchester to publicise their bout, they interacted like long-time buddies. “I know that Hatton is a supporter of Manchester City, but I have always been a Manchester United follower, and so are my sons,” Castillo says. “They idolise Wayne Rooney and I hear he is going to carry Hatton’s belt into the ring. If he does, he might get stopped by my sons looking for his autograph or to take a picture with him. So I had a few laughs with Ricky from the short time I was with him, I think he is a good man.” Hatton even invited Castillo out for drinks, but he declined because he was with his wife. “Otherwise I would have gone drinking with him for sure,” Castillo says. “Who would last longer? I hear that he can drink a lot of beer, but with a few tequilas thrown in, it would be no contest.”

    Castillo’s question also points to the most relevant question about a fight that could be thrilling in its brutality: who will last longer?

    Against Ngoudjo, El Temible from Mexicali had the bearing of a fighter in decline, worn out by years of battling the scales and too many wars. If Ngoudjo had gone all out in search of a knockout, Castillo might have been beaten. “I will not back down, whatever Hatton throws at me,” Castillo vows. “I know how to suffer and I know how to come through this torture to win. Does Ricky Hatton?”

    If Hatton, who is unbeaten in 42 fights, is to prevail, he will have to endure as much suffering as he has accumulated in his 10-year career. He should win, but Castillo could not be more ready for the struggle.

    Tale of the tape

    Jose Luis Castillo

    Age 33

    Nickname El Temible

    Born Empalme, Mexico

    Total fights 63

    Wins 55

    Wins by KO 47

    Losses 7

    Draws 1

    Reach 69in

    Height 5ft 7in

    Weight 139lb

    Trainer Tiburcio Garcia

    Ricky Hatton

    Age 28

    Nickname The Hitman

    Born Manchester

    Total fights 42

    Wins 42

    Wins by KO 30

    Losses 0

    Draws 0

    Reach 65in

    Height 5ft 7in

    Weight 139lb

    Trainer Billy Graham

    Hatton’s career On June 5, 2005, Hatton beat Kostya Tszyu, then widely regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world, after 11 rounds. On November 26, 2005, Hatton won the WBA title when he beat Carlos Maussa in the ninth round. He moved up a division to meet American Luis Collazo for the WBA welterweight crown in May last year, winning in the 12th round. He beat Juan Urango at light welterweight to win the IBF and IBO titles but relinquished his IBF title to be able to fight Castillo

    Castillo’s career Has struggled to make the weight in recent fights – having lost a brutal WBC-WBO lightweight title uni? cation ? ght with Diego Corrales in 2005. The rematch had to be classified as a nontitle bout when Castillo weighed in almost 5lb over the 135lb limit. He went on to knock out Corrales. Castillo also failed to make the weight for a third fight with Corrales in June last year and was fined $250,000, suspended for the remainder of 2006 and banned from fighting at lightweight again.

    In January he returned to action at light welterweight, winning a split decision over Herman Ngoudjo

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Hatton-Castillo: Legitimacy vs. Legacy

    By Cliff Rold

    How will they be remembered? Whether they admit it or not, that question has to cross the minds of World jr. welterweight champion Ricky Hatton (42-0, 30 KO) of Manchester, England and former World lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo (55-7-1, 47 KO, Ring Magazine #1 contender at 140) of Mexicali, Mexico.

    Two issues seek immediate resolution in the search for answers.

    For Hatton, the issue is his legitimacy as one of boxing’s best. His sensational 2005 effort in ripping the crown from the head of Kostya Tszyu was swallowed up in a failure to capture the momentum of his accomplishment. One of the games perceived bright new stars has become, since his signature win, one of its perceived questionable subjects.

    For Castillo, the issue is an enhanced career legacy. The stain of fan disappointment in his past struggles with weight is levied against the remarkable depth of quality wins on his ledger. This opportunity to capture his second true world championship, if seized, could erase any doubts about Castillo’s stature in history. It would also make once large controversies a time-absolved blip on the radar.

    Those issues are all the better for broadcaster HBO. Obviously knowing his network to be much maligned for a noticeable drop in the quality of non-Pay Per View matches on their World Championship Boxing telecasts, HBO’s head honcho for boxing Kery Davis is excited.

    “It’s a great matchup…an extremely important fight,” Davis stated to me backstage following the Miguel Cotto-Zab Judah bout, also airing his desire to see more of these type matches live on the network. A great rating Saturday, and a certain ecstatic crowd, would be a compelling impetus. In that context as well, legitimacy and legacy make for tantalizing questions. To the betterment of boxing, HBO, and the fighters, answers appear forthcoming in Las Vegas.

    Castillo should be farther removed from questions but two errant trips to the scale seem still a heavy weight on the scale of history. Castillo’s October 2005 failure to make weigh for his rematch victory over the late Diego Corrales might have been forgiven if not for his repeating that sin in June 2006, forcing the cancellation of a much anticipated rubber match.

    Since then, Castillo has posted only a single tepid win in January of this year against fringe contender Herman Ngoudjo. He appeared to some that night to still be struggling to find a comfortable weight to fight at. A few pounds have created a hefty shadow for the Mexican warrior.

    Time will likely erase that shadow no matter what Castillo does against Hatton. His record this decade speaks for itself. Castillo began his career in 1990, working as a sparring partner for the great Julio Cesar Chavez while perfecting his own craft. Since winning his first alphabelt in 2000, Castillo has proven to be a sparring partner in the mold of Larry Holmes.

    His first title win (WBC) over a near-great in Stevie Johnston, nationally televised on ABC the same day as Oscar De la Hoya-Shane Mosley I, set a tone for Castillo and the entire 135 lb. division that has lasted throughout the decade. It was a trench war fought on even terms. At the final bell, the crowd knew that either man could fairly have his hand raised.

    Castillo was that man that day.

    He’s been ‘that’ man many times since. In a belt-retaining rematch draw with Johnston; in a forgotten six-round war against former titlist Cesar Bazan; in capturing the vacant World lightweight title against Juan Lazcano in 2004; in defenses against top contenders Julio Diaz and current World lightweight champion Joel Casamayor. Castillo, quality win for quality win, has posted a resume as deep as anyone in boxing over the last seven years.

    In speaking with HBO analyst Max Kellerman this week, the issue of Castillo’s depth of opposition couldn’t be missed. “His depth is at the highest possible level. It’s not like he beat ten straight guys who were the fifth or tenth best guy in the world. It’s depth like the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff of the 1970s.”

    There was also the brief rivalry with Floyd Mayweather. Their April 2002 collision completed the legitimization of Castillo even in a unanimous decision defeat. It also remains a source of debate, with a sizable community of fans and pundits having scored the bout for Castillo (including myself by a single point). Castillo clearly lost their return later in the year, seemingly solved by the “Pretty Boy” after an even first eight rounds, but that has never erased what so many felt he accomplished in their first bout.

    And then there was Chico.

    No one needs a recap. Castillo-Diego Corrales I in May 2005 was arguably the greatest championship contest in the history of the lightweight division. Their epic saw both men take the measure of each other. Castillo looked the part of certain victor with two knockdowns in the tenth round, only to taste the shock of defeat (and the sight of a twice spit mouthpiece) in the same round.

    As mentioned above, weight controversies surrounded the remainder of the Castillo-Corrales saga. Those controversies harmed Castillo’s image in the sport. Winning though, especially big winning, changes everything. Twenty years from now, Castillo is likely to be looked back on as the best of his day at 135 lbs. Whether most historians admit it or not, a win over Hatton, five pounds higher and at age 33, would enhance that claim.

    It would also make an already likely bust in Canastota undeniable.

    Questions about Hatton, age 28, are of a different variety. His record has nowhere near the depth of Castillo’s. His legacy to date is the one fight against Tszyu. His place on pound-for-pound lists and as one of the sports truly elite fighters since that one fight has been the subject of violent discussion. Like Jermain Taylor at middleweight, Hatton is learning that unseating a great champion is not the same as being seen as a great champion.

    Perhaps that has been the result of a lack of sustained violence in his three starts since Tszyu. To his aesthetic detriment, Hatton has picked up a penchant for constant clinching in these recent affairs and has evoked in some fans the nightmares of John Ruiz bouts past. Title defenses against marginal contenders Carlos Maussa and Juan Urango, bookended around a controversial win at welterweight against Luis Collazo, have all shown off too much of this unappealing skill.

    Hatton doesn’t just need a win. He needs his third title defense to generate excitement in victory, to leave the crowd begging for more. “A brawler with Hatton’s style needs to be moving his hands to be exciting and effective and he’s gotten away from that in his last couple fights. His lifestyle has been frequently discussed,” Kellerman offered, alluding to Hatton’s well-rumored reputation as a good-time guy, “and his lack of effectiveness…might be a result of that. You’d think that a guy like Jose Luis Castillo will bring back the…best version of the brawling Hatton, the pressure fighter that fought Kostya Tszyu. I expect that’s what we’re going to get.”

    Hatton’s career before Tszyu was as carefully maneuvered and expertly managed as any fighter’s in recent memory. It was an old-school building of a champion. He beat a steady tutorial against dead men and fringe contenders while building a rabid fan base in his native Manchester. Then he faced off with fellow regional draws like Eamon Magee before moving on to lower level top-ten guys like Ben Tackie, Ray Olivera and Vince Phillips.

    With a dominant champion atop his weight class, it was a textbook search for the perfect moment to challenge the king. I wasn’t the least surprised when Hatton unseated Tszyu, having picked him to do so but I’ve been surprised by the days since. Like the Tszyu fight, the challenge from Castillo arrives at the perfect moment to return his star to the boxing stratosphere.

    The clock is ticking to the opening bell and fans everywhere, from Vegas to Mexicali to Manchester and beyond, can anticipate this battle for everything it is in the ring and outside of it. Monday morning will then arrive and we can all ponder whatever new questions have arisen in the fights wake.

    New Stage for Max: Not all of the drama will be in the ring. Behind the scenes and in the headlines, the negotiations process that kept Larry Merchant on HBO, in a split role with Max Kellerman as lead color analyst, has been one of boxing’s most talked about political dramas in recent weeks. Undoubtedly, all eyes will be on the action in the ring but a great number of ears are likely to be focused on Max in his first regular assignment on World Championship Boxing.

    Putting aside the controversies and focusing on Saturday night itself, I asked Max how he felt heading into this weekend and whether this was the biggest fight he’d ever called. “Without question this is the biggest fight I’ve ever called ringside. It is working with Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward on World Championship Boxing and promises to be an exciting fight between two top fighters of their era in what should be a good styles matchup. Let’s put it this way…exactly as you would suppose I would feel doing this fight is exactly how I feel. Very excited, and honored, and really looking forward to it.”

    Who Got Next?: There will of course be a number of interested parties watching Castillo-Hatton and hoping to cash in on the winner. Chief among them is promoter Lou Dibella whose young charge from Brooklyn, Paulie Malignaggi (23-1, 5 KO), picked up a jr. welterweight belt (IBF) last Saturday in Connecticut. Malignaggi put on a masterful performance against veteran Lovemore N’Ddou (45-9-1, 30 KO, #6) moving himself into the #4 slot in the Ring ratings and perhaps placing himself first in the ‘who got next’ sweepstakes for Hatton-Castillo.

    That Malignaggi’s win was magnified by the abortion that was Andre Dirrell-Curtis Stevens on the HBO undercard wasn’t lost on Lou either. “Paulie came out and saved the night,” he stated. Malignaggi reminded everyone that, for a guy without much pop, he can be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

    Prior to last weekend, Malignaggi was a question mark, a guy whose only trip to the world-class level against Miguel Cotto led to a competitive loss. He had to prove that he was more than just, like say a Razor Ruddock, a guy who can look good in defeat against a star. He did just that, looking the part of, and bringing himself closer to being, a star in the process.

    DiBella was optimistic about the future. “I think there are a lot of potentially big fights down the road for Paulie…There are fights that I think, stylewise, people don’t want to see. Demtrius Hopkins, Kendall Holt, anyone who is a real counter puncher, the styles aren’t going to mesh very well but for any guy who will press the fight and come forward, Paulie’s a great matchup.”

    The winner of Hatton-Castillo though is first and foremost. Lou sees Hatton-Malignaggi as an easy big-ticket draw at Madison Square Garden. The drawing power of a bout with Castillo, in his opinion, would depend somewhat on the venue but “Castillo and Paulie at the right venue is an event. Castillo and Paulie is a great HBO fight and it’s a fight where the outcome is in doubt.”

    After the receipts are counted from those potential conflicts, Miguel Cotto waits in the wings as big money for anyone coming up from 140 lbs. Kery Davis was thinking just that backstage following Cotto-Zab Judah. “Can you imagine Hatton versus Cotto live in New York? You’d have six or seven thousand Brits over here and twelve thousand Puerto Ricans. It would be an unbelievable scene.” Cotto-Castillo could also be an epic. And certainly a Malignaggi rematch, after and if Paulie can put some more major wins in his pocket, would bring fans back to the Garden again.

    Clearly, Hatton-Castillo is a big fight not just for boxing fans this weekend but for the business of boxing in the foreseeable future.

    Middle Wars: I couldn’t let Lou off the line without also asking about what progress is being made towards a much-anticipated middleweight title defense for champion and DiBella charge Jermain Taylor (27-0-1, 17 KO) against leading American contender Kelly Pavlik (31-0, 28 KO, #3). Rumors have had that fight in Los Angeles or Atlantic City in late September depending on whom one asks.

    So how close is the boxing world to seeing this showdown? “Me securing a site deal and then having a couple more conversations (with Taylor and Pavlik promoter Bob Arum),” Lou answered. “To be honest with you, I’m out there searching for sites. That tells you how real (it is). If I were a betting man that’s how I’d bet, that the fight will happen. Jermain wants the fight.”

    Taylor-Pavlik is not the only mega-fight looking closer for the fall. All indications are that World super middleweight king Joe Calzaghe and his number one contender, Mikkel Kessler, are also inching closer to a deal. If that fight also lands, as rumored, in September, it’ll be the most joyous September has been for real boxing fans since Earth, Wind and Fire first dropped their classic in celebration of the month.

    Proving the depth at both 160 and 168 lbs., super middleweight Lucien Bute (20-0, 16 KO) was successful last Friday night in out-pointing top-ten foe Sakio Bika (22-3-2, 14 KO) in the fight of the week. Bute moved from #6 to #4 in the Ring ratings and, more important for him, drew one hell of a crowd to do it at the Montreal Bell Centre. He looked not only like a guy who can challenge anyone near his weight class, but like a guy who can get his opponents paid for the risk.

    I asked Lou how encouraging it is to see three legitimate draws just eight pounds north of his young champion. “I’m encouraged by a lot of things going on in boxing in the last four to five months.” Lou cited the De la Hoya-Mayweather sales and the crowd at Cotto-Judah, along with the big crowds showing up for Kessler, Calzaghe and Bute as positives for a sport showing real life.

    Don’t look now folks, but boxing might actually be building momentum.

    The Ten Second Bell: Lineal World light heavyweight champion Zsolt Erdei (27-0, 17 KO) made another defense against Nobo Dycares last Saturday and then called out his WBO mandatory Roy Jones. I actually find that encouraging. Erdei is a good, solid fighter but his lineal title is made meaningless by his invisibility among the division’s elite. I don’t blame anyone who ignores strict history and just says “Bernard Hopkins is that champ.” That said, nothing about Erdei says “Wow!” but he’s no slug either. If it takes a Jones fight to move him closer to finding out how good he actually is, then fans outside his home turf of Germany might finally have reason to care about this unheralded professional…

    If Hasim Rahman gets a crack at Wladimir Klitschko off that garbage on Versus last week, HBO should refuse to air it. Utterly unprofessional ought to equal utterly unacceptable and utterly unpaid…

    I might be the only one, but I’m psyched about August 25. The signing of Ivan Calderon (28-0, 6 KO) of Puerto Rico, the #1 man at 105 lbs., to challenge World 108 lb. champion Hugo Cazares (25-3-1, 19 KO) of Mexico is great news for the hardcore faithful. This might not be as ‘big’ at the gate as many other bouts this year, but it’s as good a fight as can be made in all of boxing. 2007 has been amazing so far for the number of top-tier matches made and any real fan will find a way to support these two mighty mites. Cazares is an exciting champion; Calderon is one of the game’s best pure boxers. The winner is a pound-for-pound guy. Period. Seriously, anyone that perpetuates the lie (and look around; it’s a lie) that the best don’t fight the best owes these two their full attention…

    How does losing a 130 lb. belt at the scales, and then in the ring to Joan Guzman, warrant Jorge Barrios getting a Pay-per-View main event 130 lb. title shot against Juan Manuel Marquez in September?...How come there are some fans that will still pay to be insulted like that?...Call me nuts, but Travis Simms-Joachim Alcine on July 7 could be the most exciting fight of the summer…2004 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell has all the talent in the world and, believe it or not, his ugly win last weekend might have been the best thing for him. He clearly needs more time to develop before he’s ready for a big stage and he just got it.…Finally, no pick from me on Hatton-Castillo until after the weigh-in. Too many variables.

    Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    HATTON-CASTILLO PREVIEW

    By Michael Swann
    15 Rounds.com

    Last January, I was in total awe of the 3,000 Englishmen, most of them from Ricky Hatton’s home of Manchester, who made the pilgrimage from the UK to Las Vegas to see their hero fight Juan Urango. Mexican superstar Jose Luis Castillo was in the co-feature against Herman Ngoudjo, setting up a showcase for the two future opponents, although the overlooked Urango was technically there to defend his IBF jr. welterweight title.

    The card was at the Paris Hotel and Casino in the Paris Ballroom that seats about 8,000, so the raucous Manchester contingent dominated the acoustics in the room, singing “Blue Moon” and “Ricky Hatton Wonderland,” a little ditty adapted from “Winter Wonderland” that was borrowed from the soccer crowd. I was still hearing that tune in my sleep for two weeks after I went home.

    Hatton and Castillo prevailed, setting up the long anticipated bout between the two that was announced at the post fight press conference. It won’t be for the IBF title though, just the fringe IBO belt, the Ring Magazine belt, and one of those WBC International titles. Hatton didn’t have the IBF title for two weeks before the IBF took steps to strip him for not fighting Naoufel Ben Rabah or Lovemore N’dou. Urango had been given an exception to fight Hatton and collect the big purse, but Hatton was not extended the same courtesy. Hatton sure seems to have lost a lot of belts for a guy that’s undefeated, but the money was with Castillo. Let’s face it, there was and is zero demand for a Hatton fight with either Ben Rabah or N’dou.

    Now as their June 23 showdown approaches, I’ve read reports that 8,000 to 10,000 Manchesterites will be on hand for Hatton-Castillo. That’s a staggering figure. The fight will be held at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, which seats about 19,500 for boxing. Based on these numbers, Hatton may have the crowd advantage but the Mexican superstar may well have as many supporters on hand himself.
    The fight will be broadcast on HBO World Championship Boxing at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT. It’s worth seeing, not only because it’s a great matchup that’s not on PPV, but because it’s Max Kellerman’s debut on WCB.

    With the genius of having all of these Englishmen and Mexicans to fill up the venue, the promoters seem to have come up with a unique idea for big live gates - import the fans.

    The Ricky Hatton career story is an interesting one. He is a god in Manchester where he is just one of the pub boys who happens to be 42-0 (30). Yet Hatton received some criticism from some of his city fans when he announced that Manchester United star, footballer Wayne Rooney, a Manchester City arch rival, would be carrying in one of Hatton’s belts on his ring entrance. So evidently this love fest with Hatton goes beyond mere National pride and embraces Municipal pride.

    Anyway, after fighting in Manchester for most of his career, Hatton became a hot property after he retired Kostya Tszyu in 2005. One fight and 11 months later he came to seek fame and fortune in the U.S., fighting Luis Collazo in Boston, moving up one division to contend for the WBA welterweight title. The thinking was that Ricky, now a pound for pound star, would take that belt with ease and it would catapult him to bigger and better things, like Floyd Mayweather for example.

    Well, Hatton dropped Collazo in the first round, but then had to hold on to win a closely contested unanimous decision. Next came Urango and back to 140, mainly to win back a belt that he had relinquished to fight Collazo while drumming up interest in a Castillo fight. The welterweight experience hadn’t done him any good in terms of marketability and thus he returned to his roots.

    But Hatton didn’t exactly sparkle against Urango either, although he won by a wide margin. Urango, a one dimensional plodder, gave Hatton a strong body attack, and Ricky fought the final rounds as though he was Willie Pep. Whenever Urango got close, Hatton clinched.

    So the Castillo fight is of the ultimate importance to Hatton if he is ever to make any headway in the states. A loss or another sorry performance will be a huge setback to his ambitions of acceptance in the U.S. As it is, the American fan barely knows who he is, and those who know him remember him for Tszyu and little else.

    The Top Rank gang, the promoters of Castillo, are having a big year, the top promotional outfit thus far this year. They feel that they are catching Hatton at the right time, thinking that Hatton is very beatable and they are thrilled to get the first shot at him before his name is only known in Manchester pubs.

    Castillo is one tough customer. The former two-time titlist is 55-7-1 (47), but he is getting close to the end at age 33. He started as a sparring partner for Mexican icon Julio Cesar Chavez, and during the course of his 17 year career he has fought a list of elite fighters as long as your arm.

    He’s had two fights with Stevie Johnston, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Diego Corrales. He’s also fought Joel Casamayor, Julio Diaz, and Juan Lazcano. Nearly everyone agrees that he gave Mayweather his most competitive fights. In fact, both fights were disputed decision wins by Mayweather, particularly the first bout. Castillo will also be remembered throughout boxing history for his classic first fight with the late Diego Corrales, one of the greatest fights in history, and probably the greatest lightweight title fight ever.

    All in all, Jose Luis Castillo has put together some impressive credentials for consideration at Canastota. If he was still at his peak, this fight would be a no-brainer. But the years of struggling to make weight at 135, the many wars, and his last performance say that his days as an “A” fighter may be numbered. Castillo didn’t exactly set the world on fire against Ngoudjo in his official 140 pound debut, squeaking by with a split decision.

    Castillo lost a year when he was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after being unable to make weight in two fights with Corrales. He was also fined $250,000, of which he still owes $100,000 to come out of his $500,000 purse before he will be permitted to fight. Financially, as well as competitively, he should be highly motivated.

    Both men are prone to cuts, both are prone to weight problems between fights, both work well to the body, and both have a lot to prove and need the win. While Castillo may be on the down side of his career, Hatton, at 28, should be at his peak. Hatton has the advantage in youth, speed, and natural strength, Castillo has the edge in experience and durability. Plus, if Hatton thought that Urango’s body shots were wicked, wait until he gets a load of Castillo’s body artillery.

    It looks like a toss up to me. Hatton is a slight favorite with the bookmakers, but I’m going to pick a highly motivated Castillo to discover the fountain of youth and re-establish himself with a razor thin split decision.


    Michael Swann can be reached at mswann4@aol.com.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Hatton on the way up and Jose Luis probably slightly down. I pick Hatton for that reason but I really like Jose Luis as a fighter and I feel he beat Mayweather Jr. the first time no sweat and got robbed. Hes some tuff guy, but Hatton is in his prime.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Hatton-Castillo: Junior Welterweight’s Last Stand?
    By Jake Donovan from Boxing Scene

    It seems like old times, or at least 2005, as all eyes are on the junior welterweight division for the second time in as many weekends. World linear junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton defends his crown against former lightweight king Jose Luis Castillo (Saturday, HBO 10PM ET/7PM PT, live from Las Vegas, NV) in one of the years more anticipated matchups.

    There was a time when such a matchup would highlight an active discussion regarding the 140 lb. weight class. Today, the only talk is whether or not this bout can help resuscitated it.

    It was June 2005 when the division witnessed a major changing of the guard. Hatton kicked things off by kicking out longtime king Kostya Tszyu. Miguel Cotto would play the main room of Madison Square Garden one week later, on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day parade, a tradition that carried over two weeks ago for the third consecutive year.

    Two weeks later, Floyd Mayweather Jr. emerged as the greatest threat to the crown in bludgeoning shopworn and hopelessly overmatched Arturo Gatti less than an hour after potential darkhorse Vivian Harris was derailed by unorthodox Colombian Carlos Maussa.

    Perhaps it was too much all at once for the division, for years long on talent but short on quality head-to-head matches amongst the top players. Very little came of the division following Junior Welterweight June. Hatton went on to defend against Maussa in capping his Fighter of the Year campaign. Cotto survived the lone knockdown of his career to take out Ricardo Torres in one of the year’s best fights.

    That was it.

    Mayweather bolted for the welterweight division. Gatti sat out the rest of the year before himself preparing for a move 7 lb. north. Harris sat out while changing promoters, managers and trainers, though still keeping his boxing address, in fact to this day.

    There was very little worth discussing regarding the division following Cotto’s Garden party win over Paul Malignaggi last June. Hatton barely survived in his welterweight debut in creating a monster out of ordinary Luis Collazo, and spent the rest of the year deciding whether or not he should stay where the money is or drop back down and become the bank. While Hatton was pondering a move back down, Cotto decided to no longer starve himself to make weight, embarking on a career at welterweight, where he is now a major player after his brutal stoppage over Zab Judah earlier this month.

    Fans of the division would get something to talk about after Hatton decided to drop down, at the same time that Castillo elected – or more specifically, was ordered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission – to move up from lightweight. Not only was there once again life in the division, but talks of a potential Fight of the Year candidate.

    Such classification warrants the question, are expectations of this bout set too high?

    If their showcase earlier this year is any indication, the answer is a resounding and disappointing “yes.”

    Rather than fast-forwarding straight to the fight and kicking the year off with a bang, the powers that be in the two camps and at HBO felt all would be better served to take in a showcase doubleheader. Hatton wanted one fight to get re-acclimated to the weight. Castillo’s handlers wanted to see where he was after an eleven-month layoff following the aftermath of 2006’s Weightgate, having served a suspension for the remainder of 2006 after failing to make weight for his subsequently aborted rubber match with Diego Corrales last June.

    Showcases are intended to whet the appetite for a future bout, but this card had the opposite effect. Hatton (42-0, 30KO) employed a hit-and-hold offense that ultimately stunk out the joint against previously unbeaten Juan Urango. The purpose of the bout was to reclaim his old alphabet title that he had vacated the year prior. The strategy proved to be more meaningless than the belt itself; Hatton decided to give it up less than a month later.

    Equally as meaningless was classifying Castillo’s co-feature bout with then-unbeaten Herman Ngoudjo as an eliminator for another sanctioning body. Castillo (55-7-1, 47KO) struggled from beginning to end, barely outlasting Ngoudjo en route to a split decision that many felt should’ve went the other way. The bout was intended to set up a future date with Hatton, with the sanctioned eliminator part serving as insurance.

    In between then and this weekend, some familiar faces resurfaced in attempts to breathe life back into a near-lifeless division. Vivian Harris outlasted Juan Lazcano in a bout where the latter dominated when sticking to boxing, but struggled when allowing Lazcano to brawl and offer an assortment of questionable tactics, making the fight a lot closer than many expected. 53 weeks following the lone defeat of his career, Malignaggi followed his conqueror’s big win with a career-defining performance of his own, pitching a shutout against longtime divisional gatekeeper Lovemore Ndou.

    That’s the good news. The bad news is that there isn’t much left to look forward to beyond Harris and Malignaggi, in terms of bankable options, not that the latter two necessarily provide a retirement fund-type payday on their own.

    While Malignaggi remains a possibility to face the winner of this weekend’s bout, Harris can’t even plan his next move until securing a date with, and defeating, England’s Junior Witter, who hasn’t fought since outpointing DeMarcus Corley in a stinker last September. The camps for Harris and Witter agreed to terms for a future bout, but have been unable to come up with a date or venue.

    There’s Kendall Holt, who is gearing up to face Ricardo Torres later this summer. Like Hatton, both Holt and Torres give the impression of potential to become action fighters. It just hasn’t translated in recent ring appearances, including separate wins in stinkers against former prospect Mike Arnaoutis, whose once-promising career has gone nowhere fast.

    Unbeaten Demetrius Hopkins has managed to shake the stinker label in recent fights. However, his last outing exposed his limitations, having been declared the winner of his bout against former titlist and Contender finalist Stevie Forbes in what many felt was the year’s worst robbery.

    Supporters of Andreas Kotelnik will not only argue that the Germany-based Ukranian should still be undefeated, but also in possession of two alphabet titles. Close-but-no-cigar performances against present beltholders Witter (UD loss in 2005) and Souleyman M’Baye (SD loss in ’04, controversial draw earlier this year) are the lone blemishes on his ledger (25-2-1, 12KO), though it’s highly doubtful that anyone else at or near the top of the division will go out of their way to face him unless otherwise directly ordered.

    In addition to the chockfull of talent that formerly resided at 140, the division also remained locked and loaded at the prospect level. Panchito Bojado might’ve never fully panned out, but provided some fun moments along the way. Cotto’s emergence was perfectly timed, as he began to make his run shortly after Judah moved up to welterweight.

    The well has begun to run dry in that regard. There’s undefeated Lamont Peterson, who can box like a dream, but soft matchmaking has the slickster stuck on the Friday Night Fights circuit for the time being. There’s also undefeated Tim Bradley, who for the moment appears to be ShoBox what Peterson is to ESPN2. Ngoudjo is still stuck between levels, too good for prospects, but barely outlasting faded gatekeepers Emanuel Augustus and Randall Bailey.

    Even with a mere 5 lb. separating the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions, it’s highly unlikely that any promising talent elects to travel North. Joel Casamayor and the Diaz trifecta (Juan, Julio and David) occupy the top slots; all appear maxed out at the weight, not to mention that Casamayor and Julio Diaz already own losses against Castillo.

    All of this brings us back to the importance of this bout living up to the already high demands. It may not come with the tagline of “the bout to save boxing” like Mayweather-de la Hoya (which certainly did not), but Hatton-Castillo is possibly the bout looked upon to not only rescue an otherwise faceless junior welterweight division, but carry it for years to come.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Hatton, Castillo promise not to compromise
    By Dan Rafael
    ESPN.com

    Expectations that junior welterweight world champion Ricky Hatton and Jose Luis Castillo, both come-forward brawlers, will engage in a memorable fight are sky-high.

    The fans expect a slugfest, and so do the fighters, who will meet in a much anticipated showdown Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET) at Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center, which will rock with thousands of Hatton supporters who have made the trip from England, as well as Castillo's loyal Mexican fans. It's a fight date that has been circled on boxing fans' calendars for months, especially after both successfully navigated more-difficult-than-expected tune-up fights on the same card in January.

    "This fight has the potential to be like the first Corrales fight," said Castillo (55-7-1, 47 KOs), the former two-time lightweight champion, referring to his epic 2005 battle against the late Diego Corrales, who stopped Castillo in the 10th round of an all-time great fight.

    Hatton is also hopeful that Saturday's fight will go down as a classic.

    "When fight fans have video collections of the greatest fighters of all time and the greatest fights of all time on the shelves, I want one of Ricky Hatton's to be on those shelves," he said. "And I think this could be it because this has all the makings."

    Hatton (42-0, 30 KOs), a great admirer of Corrales, also believes the fight with Castillo could be a memorable fight like Corrales-Castillo I.

    "If you look at styles that make the best fights, it's people that don't take a backward step, body punches, people who have sharp uppercuts, doing a lot of in-close fighting," he said. "And to be honest, Castillo's fight against Diego Corrales was one of the fights of the century, and if anyone's styles could even beat that one, you'd have to say my style, and Jose Luis Castillo's style would.

    "I'm going to go straight on the front porch stage for action. Those are the types of fights -- Castillo-Corrales -- that people will be watching in a year's time, and I want to be able to be in one of those fights. I want people talking about fights like that about Ricky Hatton in a few years' time. So Saturday night, I'm going to make sure that that becomes a big possibility."

    As a rising star in England, Hatton engaged in regular slugfests. When he emerged on the world stage, it was by stopping longtime champion Kostya Tszyu in the 11th round of a punishing fight in June 2005.

    In his next bout, Hatton unified belts by mixing it up with rugged Carlos Maussa before knocking him out in the ninth round.

    But in his two fights since, which happened to coincide with the start of an HBO multi-fight contract, Hatton has done little to create excitement, and he knows it.

    "I feel that the achievements have been a little better than the performances in my last two fights," Hatton admitted. "I know I've got a lot better performances in me."

    In May 2006, Hatton moved up to welterweight and won a close decision to claim an alphabet title against southpaw Luis Collazo. Hatton knocked Collazo down in the first round, but the rest of the fight, which featured a lot of holding and too little clean punching, was a struggle.
    Hatton, in fact, has maintained since the fight that he never wanted to move up in the first place, but when an injury to original opponent Juan Lazcano sunk their fight, there were few opponents available that HBO would approve. So up he went to 147 pounds to face Collazo.

    Then came Hatton's January bout, when he moved back down to 140 pounds and reclaimed his old belt from another southpaw, Juan Urango. Hatton easily won the decision, but again, the fight produced very little action and Hatton was reduced to grabbing and mauling throughout the second half of the bout.

    He chalked up those lackluster outings to everything from changing weights, to the southpaw style of his opponents and to a hard time getting up for fights against lesser names.

    "I'm not saying I took Collazo lightly or I took Juan Urango lightly but, no disrespect to them intended, before the fights were mentioned I didn't really know them and the names didn't sound too familiar to me, and I was a massive favorite to beat them both," Hatton said. "So maybe without realizing, you know, you never take anyone lightly. But in the back of your mind, you're thinking 'I've got them beaten, these two guys' and maybe you fall complacent that little bit without realizing it. But because I'm fighting the person I'm fighting [Castillo], the big name, I think without realizing you just find that little bit extra."

    Part of the reason Hatton gives for his lethargic outing against Urango is that the intense air conditioning in his Las Vegas hotel gave him a cold. For this fight, he rented a house off the Las Vegas Strip.

    Hatton insists there will be no such excuses after the fight with Castillo, the sort of style match that suits both of them.

    "This is more my kind of fight," Hatton, 28, said. "The only thing I will say in my defense [is] I was up at welterweight when I didn't want to move [and] then I moved back down to my normal weight. So that's difficult against a couple of southpaws. But this is really my time. I'm going to shine and I'm going to go straight to work on Saturday."

    Top Rank's Bob Arum, Castillo's promoter, has promoted some of the best action fights in history, including Corrales-Castillo I and the legendary Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns fight. Of more recent vintage, he promoted the May 19 Kelly Pavlik-Edison Miranda thriller and the June 9 Miguel Cotto-Zab Judah brawl. He is expecting more fireworks from Hatton-Castillo.

    "I would be very disappointed if this wasn't another epic kind of fight," Arum said. "I think it will be a fight that you say after it is over, 'Wow, that was really exciting.' I think that's what we will get because these two guys come to fight. They don't know any other way to fight but to come forward."

    Castillo, 33, escaped with a split-decision victory in a flat performance against Herman Ngoudjo on the Hatton-Urango undercard. Castillo was rusty after an 11-month layoff caused, in part, because a third fight with Corrales had been canceled when Castillo failed to make weight for the second time.

    "I won, got my hand raised and that is all that counts," said Castillo, who moved up to 140 pounds for the Ngoudjo fight.

    Castillo, who will owe Hatton a rematch if he wins, believes he should have moved up sooner. It would have saved him from a suspension and fine from Nevada officials for missing weight for the canceled fight with Corrales.

    "Those five pounds are huge," Castillo said. "I will always have trouble making the weight, but it is a lot easier [to make 140] than 135. I just couldn't make that and should have moved up sooner. But with so many big fights at lightweight we made decisions that maybe we shouldn't have."

    After his close call with Ngoudjo, Castillo watched Hatton's dull performance against Urango. He is hopeful that the Hatton who thrilled so many in previous fights shows up to fight him.

    "I do not like the way Hatton has been holding and grabbing and hitting in some of his fights lately, especially against Urango," Castillo said. "Hatton is a good fighter and likes to fight. I'm hoping I see the early version of Hatton and not the one that hugs, clinches and holds and hits. I think the fight could turn ugly if Hatton tries to do that with me, but I expect a good, clean fight and one that the fans are going to enjoy. I will fight like I always do, which is moving forward. If he fights the way he did against Kostya Tszyu it will be a classic."

    Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    I know a lot of people loves Hatton. I've never been sold on him. I think he's going to take a beating from Castillo. In fact I picking castillo by TKO before the 8th round.

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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    mrbig - I sincerly hope you're right.

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    Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions


    Jose Luis Castillo said that after his younger brother died, “I didn’t even feel like going to training camp, but it’s my job.”
    (JAE C HONG / AP)

  27. #27
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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    It hardly pays to be a boxer when these sharks rip off their pounds of flesh outside of the ring.

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    Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Win, Lose or Draw, is Hatton Flying the Lone Flag in Terms of British Credibility?
    By Lee Purchase
    Ringside Report.com

    British sporting success? Pah. Pickings are always slim. Yes, we won the rugby world cup a few years ago and soccer's version 30-odd years before that, and a few of our obscenely-rich, Maserati-owning playboys are competent enough to forge the occasional Formula-one championship winning career, but things are generally grim. The specter of sporting failure hovers hangs ominously over our dreams of triumph, and then, in a swift and most brutally inevitable matter-of-fact piece of choking at the biggest moment, those fragile hopes are dashed until the next doomed Wimbledon bid or Ashes series.

    Thankfully, and for which I am most grateful, the British protagonists of my favorite sport seem to be made of somewhat sterner stuff. Fighters from the UK ain't had it too bad, and have represented this part of Europe pretty well. Ok, when matching up to the Mexicans- who seem to have pugilism ingrained into their very souls- or the nubile athleticism and charisma of the Americans, our achievements are put into much more realistic perspective. But Lennox Lewis? Boxing's version of Tim Henman he ain't. Lewis stepped up and took his piece of history. So did Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank (albeit courted by a shade of transatlantic ambiguity,) and to a lesser degree Naseem Hamed before his career was brought to an abrupt halt by the skills of Marco Antonio Barrera and then a high-speed car collision. Not to mention the worldly exploits of John Conteh and Barry McGuigan, the latter who has entered the Boxing Hall of Fame.

    Even now, things seem pretty damn positive. Welshman Joe Calzaghe, a man with more talent in his little figure than most other contemporary fighters, is the UK's current figurehead, supported by a more than able cast including Ricky Hatton, David Haye, Enzo Macarinelli, Junior Witter, Nicky Cook (who is soon to be challenging for WBO featherweight title), among others. All are operating at the head of their respective divisions, are relatively young in boxing terms (Calzaghe aside) and have potentially bright futures. But, aside from Cruiserweight Haye who is about to take an admirable step up to Heavyweight once he has taken on division number one Jean-Marc Mormeck, most seem wrapped in the bureaucratic cotton wool of boxing politics. Uninspired opponents equals an uninspired audience, but one of this elite clique is certainly making more an effort than the rest.

    Hatton is once again the lone Brit pushing the envelope, and his upcoming fight with the outstanding Jose Luis Castillo almost upon us. Hatton's career thus far is defined by the win over Kosta Tzsyu, a magnificent achievement over arguably the best 140-pound fighter of all time, a performance of such superhuman intensity and astounding fortitude that it is unlikely we ever see a similar one again. Calzaghe's savagery of the overhyped Jeff Lacy may have been a masterclass in ring intelligence, speed and all-round ability, but he was never taken to the edge of endurance by a future first ballot Hall of Fame fighter, forced to battle in such extreme combat. Hatton combined pitch-perfect tactics with the willingness to launch into the pure physicality of pugilistic trench warfare; pushing, mauling and brawling with the hitherto iron-clad Russian-Australian. Hatton's pure forcefulness stripped away that armor and revealed a softer center when the beaten champion congratulated the Macunian after being forced to quit on his stool. Two years later, Tzsyu hasn't fought since.

    Calzaghe's win over Lacy was professional, superbly skilled and at last introduced the world to his fine ability, but in terms of difficulty the two performances are light years apart. Since then, Hatton has seemingly failed those who were wowed by the magnitude of his first world title win. A knockout of Colombian movie of the week Carlos Maussa for the WBA 140-pound title maintained the sense of awe but high opinions were slightly quelled by his next two outings. A close call victory against New Yorker Luis Collazo in an ill-advised move to Welterweight for the WBA welterweight title raised the first questions about Hatton's fallibility, and in January he dragged himself to a win over Juan Urango and regained the IBF title he had initially won from Tzsyu in another snoozer. Yes, Urango was the proverbial immovable object whom I doubt even Wladimir Klitschko could hurt, but Hatton's tank was empty by the fourth and viewers were forced to sit through another clinch fest whilst he labored to an inevitable points win. On the other side of the double header, Castillo didn't fare much better but still managed to steal the victory and keep up his end of the bargain to set up this weekend's meeting.

    However bland the performances, the fact remains that Hatton has fought for four world titles in consecutive fights, winning them all. In splitting with Frank Warren, a man who has milked fighters for years and consequently stunted their careers, Hatton has made the right choice. After Calzaghe fought Eubank, a series of empty defenses on home soil took the place of what should have been megafights against the likes of Roy Jones, JR. Hamed suffered a similar fate, only bagging another marquis fight once he and Warren had parted company. Elsewhere across the country Junior Witter, although never promoted by Warren, finally came of age last year, winning a world title and widespread respect by outpointing perennial contender DeMarcus Corley. Little of note has been forthcoming since although he has done his fair share of talking, and it is time for him to also step up. David Haye is looking at a fight with Mormeck and will then move up to Heavyweight immediately whether he wins or loses, but Macarinelli, another fighter burdened by Warren, has lacked a notable fight aside from his initial win over Mark Hobson.

    Hatton's fight with Castillo is mouthwatering on paper. In terms of ability to both administer and absorb punches there is almost nothing between the two men, although Hatton is the fresher at 28. Power and body punches are also close, as are reserves of stamina (again Hatton will probably prove the fresher on fight night, even if Castillo's aging body has been accommodated somewhat since he moved up in weight.) Clinching could become an overriding and debilitating factor as the two fight so close to their opponents on the inside, but neither are completely devoid of the ability to box and move and utilize their adeptness at the sweet science, which I expect to see from Hatton in particular at some stage.

    That we can even look forward to such a fight is a credit to Hatton, and puts Calzaghe's recent exploits to shame. Calzaghe followed up the Lacy beatdown by grinding out a result over Bika which demonstrated the capacity to win ugly, but the fight with Manfredo was a mismatch of the highest order, three rounds of laughably one-sided flurries capped by a poor stoppage. Yes, it may have been an introductory fight to a larger North American audience but surely there were tougher and more telling tests out there? A fight against Mikkel Kessler is at least at the negotiation stage, but these talks have been going on for months and Joe has been sniping at anyone within his weight range for not taking a fight against him- certainly an ironic statement once you take a look at his resumé and the fights in the past decade that both us and he have missed out on.

    So to this Saturday and Hatton, and I cannot wait to hearing our national anthem being belted out in support of the IBO champion who should deal with Castillo within the distance. It may seem like a fight with a predictable outcome, but it is by no means a certainty when the opponent is someone of Castillo's caliber. A convincing win for Hatton would extend his possibilities even further and may force him to look up to 147 pounds for the money and stardom which he so craves, but at least we have a young champion who is prepared to do what it takes to create a lasting legacy and make some kind of impact. The British flag which enters the ring with Hatton this weekend may be the sole bearer of our nation's identity at the elite end of such a culturally and nationally diverse sport, but Hatton flies it high and proud, and his is the only one which will soon be raised on the canvas of a high-end prizefight.

  29. #29
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    Re: Castillo-Hatton Pre-Fight Press & Predictions

    Castillo urges Hatton to cut out low blows
    from The Scotsman.com

    Jose Luis Castillo has warned Ricky Hatton not to wreck their potential super-fight in Las Vegas on Saturday night by resorting to the illegal tactics he claims have become Hatton's trademark.

    Castillo believes Hatton's liberal use of his head and elbows in recent gruelling fights against Luis Collazo and Juan Urango have blighted his reputation as an attacking force.




    Castillo is not the only one - Roger Mayweather, uncle and trainer of the supposedly retired Floyd, said: "Hatton's a dirty fighter. He uses his elbows, he hits low. He does what he has to do to win."

    That may seem a bit rich coming from Mayweather, whose ring invasion during last year's clash between his nephew and Zab Judah breached corner etiquette to the extent that he was suspended for one year.

    But it is a more telling insistence on Castillo's part because it suggests the lauded Mexican warrior is not entirely at ease with the prospect of facing a man with Hatton's high-octane credentials.

    Castillo said: "With Diego Corrales you could see the punches coming but that is not the case with Hatton because he comes at you from all angles and he is very reckless. If he comes out and uses his elbows and holds then people won't like it. He knows how to be a real rough guy and there is no rhythm to what he does.

    "But Ricky has got great heart and great courage. He has got to do what he has to do to win. And if he fights like he did in the first few rounds against Kostya Tszyu, it will be a great fight."

    Castillo's veteran promoter Bob Arum stressed his conviction that even if the 33-year-old's warrior instincts have lost their edge, this fight will bring out the best in him.

    Arum said: "Jose is a fighter, not a dancer, and the possibility that he is a fighter who is on the downside is not something which can be discounted. But from what I have seen over the years even if fighters are on the down side, for a real last hurrah fight they pull themselves together and certainly are ready to din.

    "If he loses a one-way fight there are not many places he can go. I am sure he will give it a go because he has to eat. This is a real do-or-die fight for him."

    It is not quite such a black and white issue for Hatton, who arguably could find a gutsy defeat will do more for his trans- Atlantic standing than another Urango-style back-foot win.

    Arum added: "Ricky is 28. If he loses this fight it's a setback but he can regroup and pull himself together, and come back to have another go at it."

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    Weights from Las Vegas

    Weights from Las Vegas

    By Michael Swann
    15 Rounds.com

    Ricky Hatton 140 lbs-Jose Luis Castillo 140 lbs
    Matthew Hatton 147 lbs-Edwin Vazquez 149 lbs
    Ruslan Provotnikov 139--Willie Diamond 143
    Antwun Echols 163 1/2 - Fulgencio Zuniga 165
    Femi Fehintola 133 1/2 - Babaro Zepeda 127 1/2
    Shane Andreesen 232 - Dione Criag 229
    Stewart Brooks 156 - Taronze Washington 157
    David Barnes 145 - Juan Pablo Montes De Oca ??

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