by Paul Magno
Imagine there’s some place in the universe where a stereotypical English pub exists alongside a Long Island night club. Now, let’s imagine what the cultural mish-mosh would look like if both establishments let out at the same time. Imagine the conflicts and battles as both cross-sections of humanity cross paths. Now, you can understand what most fans are looking forward to when Ricky Hatton and Paulie Malignaggi clash this Saturday, November 22nd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Neither fighter is considered much of a fan favorite outside of their own personal fan base. Hatton’s mauling style makes him tough to love for most tastes while Malignaggi’s defense-first mindset is a bore for many.
While the combination of both styles suggests a possible letdown as a hugger meets a runner, the clash of cultures and personal aesthetics makes this bout interesting: Bangers vs. Coney Island Dogs, Fish and Chips vs. NY Style Pizza, Oasis vs. Bon Jovi, Manchester United vs. The New York Yankees.
Aside from the sociological angle, this will also be the meeting between the 2 top ranked Jr. Welterweights in the sport. Although neither holds a recognized world title at the moment, Malignaggi and Hatton are rated #1 and #2 respectively by the BTBC World Rankings and are in every other reputable rankings as top 3, at worst. The winner will be the undisputed king of the 140 pounders.
Another factor that might turn this one into a surprisingly good fight is the fact that both fighters are coming off a couple of less-than-solid performances. Hatton was KO’d by Floyd Mayweather in his ill-advised move up to the Welterweight division and he followed that up with a solid, but hardly awe-inspiring performance against the unranked Juan Lazcano. Malignaggi, on the other hand, was riding high after winning the IBF crown against Lovemore Ndou in a one-sided boxing lesson. However, he followed that dominance up with a controversial UD win over Herman Ngoudjo and a flat performance against the same Ndou he dominated months earlier.
Along the way, both fighters had their distractions. Hatton with his drinking and the firing of his long-time trainer Billy Graham in favor of Floyd Mayweather Sr. Malignaggi with his off-putting and distracting hair styles. But make no mistake about it, the winner of this bout will be the undisputed #1 Jr. Welterweight in the world- at least for the time being.
While most experts acknowledge the fact that the winner of this fight will be #1, most also believe that the winner’s reign as top dog in the division will be a short one as heir apparent, Timothy Bradley, already a belt holder, is biding his time and waiting for the chance to pounce on either guy.
Bradley performed a minor miracle by snatching the WBC title from awkward Brit Junior Witter in Witter’s own back yard. He followed up that title-winning performance by executing a one-sided mugging of tough veteran Edner Cherry. Bradley has the style, skill and temperament to be the next top dog at 140, but he’ll have to wait for now because a new monarch will be crowned this Saturday.
And that new king will either drink too much or look in the mirror to excess; Hug or run; Joke or Brag. But no matter which party boy wins, it will be well-deserved and he will be the rightful king of his division.
One undisputed champion for an entire division? What a refreshing sentence to type. All Hail The Party Boys….