Sunday, March 23, 2008

One Ricky Hatton

I'm strapping the glove to my right hand, which is impossibly hard when your left also has that thick black pad over it.

"Hatton's back on May 24th. Fighting Lazcano."

"I love how you love that stupid limey fighter. He fuckin' sucks. Leads with his head all the time. He's gonna' be retarded."

"That's not my problem. But he's all heart, and that's why he's my man."

I've stated before that fighting isn't like anything else. There's not a team to root for, or some nobody that can fuck it up.... no, the fight game is one on one. You root for one man to go into a ring and be as violent and brutal as he can. Along the way, you learn certain things. You get to know his style. You get to know his personality. You know how much heart he has, when he'll quit and when he won't. You'll see looks in his eyes that mean something, that mean that you know what's coming. No other sport has that, because no other sport has boxing's nature.

You'll never learn more about somebody than when they have been physically knocked down. The reaction that immediately follows is what tells you what kind of persona you have. Do you sit there stunned? Or do you get up angrier? Do you charge back in, regardless of the fact that the next time you get put down, you might die from it? It's never about winning or losing. It's about heart. It's about how you react, and how hard you'll keep on coming, even after you get knocked down.

Ricky Hatton is my favorite because he's just like me. He's not that tall, not that big, and not that talented; however, he does all that he can do, charging in and pounding to the body with brutal hooks, taking advantage of openings upstairs with whipping uppercuts. He'll never outbox you, never out-flair you. He's just going to hustle constantly, and keep pressuring you like his life depends on it... because it very much does. He's not the cleanest fighter, and certainly adverse to rabbit punching or wrestling. It's a streetfight every time with him, and you better be ready to brawl when he walks in.

He is a modern day Micky Ward- not too much talent, but all heart and soul. He dips his head, wraps your arm, and delivers the hard looping punches that he relies on. He likes drinking Guinness and playing darts, and never takes himself too seriously. Maybe it's an act, but I doubt it. He sincerely seems like the type that would buy you a beer at the end of the night when you're out of cash, and there's something to be said for that, especially amongst famous athletes.

Yes, he lost to Floyd Mayweather. But Mayweather, who is the most talented boxer alive right now, is unbeatable. If you have to lose (as all champions do) then it may as well be to the best fighter on the planet.

But on May 24th, our lad will come charging out to the strains of "Blue Moon" once again, and he'll show what champions are truly made of. He'll show us that it's not flair and style that makes champions, but grit and determination.

And once again, like always, we'll be here singing... "There's only one Ricky Hatton."

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