Mayweather-Pacquiao damaged boxing, says Hatton.

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Ricky HattonWe are almost a month removed from the most sought-after fight of the modern era. When Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao stepped in to face one another on May 2, 2015, they brought into realisation a dream match with five years of momentum behind it, and the world stood still to watch.

As most people are now aware, the fight itself was hardly a blockbuster worthy of the intense and prolonged build-up that preceded it. Mayweather did to Pacquiao exactly what he did to most of his 47 previous victims; utilised his technique and skills to outbox him and stay out of harm’s way for the majority of the fight. It was a lopsided win in his favour and a slightly anti-climactic conclusion for such a mammoth saga.

There are a handful of fighters who have faced both men over the years; Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, and the subject of a recent interview with BBC, Ricky Hatton.

A two-weight world champion at 140-147 lbs. and undefeated at 43-0 by the time he fought Mayweather in 2007, Hatton had carved out quite a reputation with his frantic, action-packed style on his way up the ladder. Known for his vicious body attacks he would often abstain from exercising the finer points of his defence to get closer to his opponents, the exact opposite philosophy to Mayweather’s.

Their clash was a scrappy, untidy affair with plenty of wrestling and tussling on the inside. Eventually, Mayweather began to exploit the gaps in Hatton’s increasingly frayed defence with sharp and accurate shots to earn himself a rare stoppage win in the tenth.

Hatton regrouped with a win over Juan Lazcano and found himself a new trainer in Floyd Mayweather Sr., to help him prepare for his Stateside return against Paulie Malignaggi, which turned out to be his best performance in years; that brought him along to a Pacquiao bout in 2009 in which he was decimated in two rounds. The finishing punch that left Hatton flat and unmoving on the canvas is a haunting reminder of the dangers of this sport.

Regardless of the result or the punishment he may take on the way, Hatton always came to have a real fight. Often this was to his own detriment, but to see a boring match with him involved was a rare sight indeed. Perhaps it is from this mentality that stems some of his criticisms of Mayweather and Pacquiao’s meeting.

“It was damaging for the sport. I can’t imagine there is anyone out there saying they loved it. Considering they’re two all-time greats, the money they walked away with, what the fans had to pay, it was all a bit of a letdown. Then, when Manny blamed his defeat on a shoulder injury, it soured it even further.”

“If you’d got up at 5 am. to watch it in the UK and you hadn’t seen a fight in years, you might not bother watching boxing again.”

It was far from a rock-em-sock-em brawl. Appreciation for the exquisite display of timing and elusiveness from Mayweather from the avid fans was not enough to console the vast majority of the audience, who probably do not tune in on a regular basis and so are not used to recognising the finer points of the game. That must have made the PPV price seem like a pointless expenditure and the reports of both fighter’s purses would be enough to turn anyone green with envy. You can see why people expected more.

If one point was proven beyond argument on the night, it was that Mayweather is the dominant force of this generation. He took the man who was meant to be his boogeyman, a bad style match-up with superior hand speed, rapid combinations and aggressiveness, and made him look like just another guy. From the outside looking in, Mayweather was in control for almost the entire twelve rounds.

But Hatton feels that Mayweather has shown he is a cut above the rest only because there have been no other fighters around who are his equal or somewhere near it. He has never been granted that definitive test of character that others from past generations have had to endure. Ray Leonard had Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran.
Muhammed Ali had Sonny Liston, Ken Norton, and George Foreman. Mayweather has had no one, or maybe he did and they couldn’t get close to him.

“He is a superstar in an era of very few superstars. Floyd will be remembered for his brilliance between the ropes and for being a colourful character outside of the ring, but not for the excitement he provided.”

“Mayweather is not bothered about pleasing the crowd; he’s bothered about doing what he does and getting paid. He doesn’t have you on the edge of your seat, let’s put it that way.”

“As a boxer, I sit there and watch his ability and think: “Wow, look at his movement, that’s unbelievable”. But a non-boxing person will probably be sitting there thinking: “I’ve paid all this money, what the hell am I watching?!”

As far as his finances, his health and his legacy, Mayweather has cultivated the perfect style to become and remain successful. By taking so few hits in the ring, he has managed to stay a world champion fro almost two decades, and the defensive-minded style he uses, serves to protect him from danger, and make his opponents look inferior as they swing and miss time and again.

Ironically, Mayweather’s approach is the embodiment of that sweet science credo, ‘to hit and not get hit.” But, it is so at odds with the tough guy mentality of ‘taking one to give one’ that many a ring legends have reveled in, for which he receives far too much criticism for. However, I’m sure he won’t mind that though.