Hatton-Malignaggi

Tonight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Ricky Hatton will take on Paulie Malignaggi, with Hatton’s IBO light-welterweight title at stake.

Here are the fighters at yesterday’s weigh-in; Hatton is on the left:

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I asked my son to comment on the fight; here is his response:

Tonight two of the top 140-pounders square off in Las Vegas. Paulie Malignaggi, the slick New Yorker, will take on Englishman Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, who will bring his blue-collar style across the pond to the MGM Grand. This fight is as stark a contrast in styles as you will find in boxing. Malignaggi has only a handful of knockouts in his career, all against weak opposition, and must outbox his opponent to win. Hatton prefers to plod forward, holding and grabbing, while attempting to wear down the body of his opponents. If Hatton is to win tonight, it most likely will have to be by stoppage, as Malignaggi is very quick and has only been beaten once by a very good Miguel Cotto. That being said, Hatton also suffered his only defeat one year ago at the hands of the world’s best, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Prediction: This fight could go either way. Both men have fought the best in the world, and each has lost only once. “The Magic Man” Paulie Malignaggi is younger, and Hatton is notorious for having a lifestyle that many see shortening his great career. With that in mind, and after a less than convincing performance in Hatton’s last bout, I look for “The Magic Man” to outbox Ricky Hatton in a fight that may look very similar to the fight between Oscar De la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Maybe so. I’ve only seen Malignaggi fight once, and it was a strange experience. Malignaggi had hair extensions or something in his hair and they kept coming loose and getting in his way. Midway through the bout, his trainer got out a pair of scissors and cut them off in disgust. Plus, Malignaggi keeps breaking his hand. On the other hand, Hatton has yet to demonstrate that he has really come back from his loss to Floyd Mayweather. In truth, he’s never again looked as good as he did in his tremendous win over Kostya Tszyu. So I’d say it’s a toss-up.

The fight will be on HBO with just one undercard bout being broadcast. So if you have HBO, it’s “free” and should be well worth checking out.

UPDATE: In the event, it was all Ricky Hatton. Malignaggi looked like himself only in the first round. In the second, Hatton staggered Malignaggi, who held on and avoided going down, but never seemed to find his legs thereafter. For the rest of the fight, Malignaggi was clutching and grabbing. Hatton, in contrast, was energetic and relentless. He repeatedly stung Malignaggi with lunging left jabs, punches which one would have expected Malignaggi to dodge.

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By the end, the HBO announcers were wondering whether Malignaggi was a pretender. He could have finished the fight, but there was no way he could win it, and his corner threw in the towel in the 11th round. After the fight Malignaggi was entirely coherent and seemed unhurt. His right hand, as far as we know, was fine too, but he never found himself after being staggered in the second.

The bottom line, I guess, is that Ricky Hatton is back. He looked like the pre-Mayweather Hatton, which is great news for his British fans–thousands of whom made the trek to Las Vegas, along with Hatton’s band–and for boxing fans everywhere.

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