Monday, May 4, 2009

British Scene Weekend Recap

Along with giving his thoughts on Ricky Hatton's devastating loss at the hands of Manny Pacquaio, Dave Oakes recaps this past Saturday night's Sunderland show that featured world title aspirants, Jamie Moore and Rendall Munroe.

Photo © Ray Kasprowicz

Saturday May 2

Hatton Overview and British Undercard

By Dave Oakes

Many people may feel that Saturday night was a bad day for British boxing, but there were some positive signs shown on the Sunderland card that made up the PPV on British television. Two of Britain’s potential world champions came through title fights with ease and will be hoping to be in the next wave of champs now that the Calzaghe, Hatton and Woods era seems over.

And yes, the Hatton era is most certainly over. Whilst taking nothing away from the breathtaking performance by Manny Pacquiao, Hatton doesn’t look like the same fighter he was years ago. Don’t misunderstand me, Pacquiao is and always will be a greater fighter than Hatton, that’s beyond question, but I believe Hatton’s career has been in decline ever since the Tszyu fight and maybe even before it.

It may seem easy for me to say that after the fight, but I believe the Hatton that fought Kostya Tszyu would’ve been able to take the punches that knocked him down in the first round. The punch that levelled him in the second would still have done so, but that monstrous left hand was good enough to knock out any light-welterweight in the world.

I believe the many years of Hatton not living the life of a boxer have finally caught up with him. You can’t put 50lbs on between fights and not expect it to come back to haunt you. His punch resistance has gone, and with a defence as poor as Hatton’s, that can be a dangerous thing.

It must be said that Hatton wasn’t helped one bit by Floyd Mayweather Snr, whose petulance and unprofessional approach in the build up and on fight night itself was nothing less than disgraceful.

It’s been well reported that Mayweather Snr was late numerous times for training sessions but I don’t think many people would’ve expected him to do that on Saturday night. He did, and then barely said a word to anyone in Hatton’s team all night.

It was Mayweather’s assistant, Lee Beard, that prepared Hatton in the dressing room. Mayweather turned up just before the ring walk and kept his distance during the introductions. When he did speak, it was less than ten words in between the first and second rounds. He seemed to be more intent on proving some childish point to Hatton rather than helping him or at least acting in the professional manner that nearly every other trainer in boxing would have.

The most disgusting aspect of the whole night was when Hatton was laying on his back having been poleaxed by Pacquiao; Mayweather didn’t seem at all bothered and completely ignored Hatton. It’s the responsibility of the trainer, as well as the referee, to help the boxer when he’s in need of medical attention. You get in the ring as fast as possible and get the boxer on his side to stop him swallowing his tongue. You don’t hang around at the edge of the ring posing for the cameras and trying to do as many interviews as possible. Mayweather should have his licence revoked for such a scandalous and dangerous display of incompetence.

He seems to enjoy dismissing Freddie Roach’s credentials as a trainer but there was only one winner between the pair on Saturday night, even if Hatton had won, Roach would still be the better trainer and the better man. Mayweather’s earned a lot of money in his career but he just goes to show that the old saying is right – money can’t buy you class.

If Hatton does continue, Mayweather will undoubtedly be sacked. Personally, I think Hatton should call it a day; he’s got nothing left to prove, has a lot of money in bank and has a great family to enjoy. He would still be competitive against all of the light-welterweight’s bar Pacquiao, but the way he responded to the knockout on Saturday was worrying and was a sharp reminder as to how dangerous boxing can be.

Most people in the trade believe it’s time for Hatton to retire, including Freddie Roach, who spoke honestly about his own decision to fight on longer than he should’ve done and the effects he believes it has had on him. That’s called class, something Hatton, Pacquiao and Roach will always have no matter where their futures takes them, Mayweather Snr on the other hand, will always be viewed as the lowest form of humankind in many peoples eyes.

Whilst Hatton’s career looks to be near the end, Manny Pacquiao’s just keeps getting better and better. I think all boxing fans should enjoy watching him whilst they can, you don’t get to see many fighters like Manny Pacquiao in your lifetime.

He’s done everything needed to be classed as a legendary fighter; he’s gone through the weight divisions, he’s fought the best opponents he could face, he’s entertaining, has improved his technique ten fold since he started, and above all else, done it in a respectful and professional manner that makes him a great role model for young kids and a great ambassador for boxing.

Hatton Undercard – The British Leg

Jamie Moore made a successful defence of his European light-middleweight title by blowing away Roman Dzuman in two one-sided rounds.

Moore started aggressively, pounding Dzuman with hard hooks to the body. His work on the inside was very intelligently done; he was switching from his usual southpaw stance to orthodox at times and was repeatedly catching Dzuman with the left hook thrown from that stance.

The end came in the second round when Moore caught Dzuman with two crisp straight lefts followed by a vicious left hook under the ribcage. Dzuman went down heavily and did well to get back on his feet. It was only delaying the inevitable though and he was over from the same shot again seconds later and was counted out whilst he was on his knees trying desperately to catch his breath.

Moore moves to 32-3 and is looking far too good for European level. His promoter, Frank Maloney, said he expects to make a major announcement within six months about a world title opportunity. I think Moore would stand a very good chance of beating any of the current champions and should be aiming for the ageing Vernon Forrest as soon as possible.

In the joint headline slot, Rendall Munroe added the Commonwealth belt to his European belt after he was taken the distance by the strong and determined Isaac Nettey.

Munroe made a slow start to the fight but was controlling Nettey with his jab. Nettey was trying to stand and trade with Munroe throughout the first six rounds and occasionally landed a heavy looking overhand right; Munroe still remained in control though and was beginning wear Nettey down with some neat body work.

In the seventh it looked as though Munroe might me able to stop a tiring Nettey late on, but the brave Ghanaian battled his way through the last six rounds and even found the energy for a late burst of aggression in the eleventh.

There were no doubts who had won, with the judges scoring the bout 120-109 and 119-110 twice in favour of Munroe. Munroe has been very busy in the past twelve months and should take a short break from boxing to help recharge his batteries before making another defence of his European belt in September.

On the undercard…

Danny Williams retained his British heavyweight title after a split decision victory over John McDermott in a predictably tedious affair. Williams won the first six rounds behind a sloppy jab with McDermott barely throwing a punch., McDermott put more effort into the fight in the last few rounds but it was too little too late.

Both fighters were deducted a point during the fight, McDermott for use of the elbow in the third, whilst Williams was harshly deducted a point in the sixth for holding, I agree with the referee that he was holding but having just sat through six rounds of McDermott doing the exact same thing, it seemed to me that the referee was rather too keen on evening things up.

Two of the judges scored the fight 116-111 in favour of Williams, whilst the third judge had McDermott winning 115-113. I was in agreement with the score of 116-111 to Williams.

Olympic hero Tony Jeffries made his hometown debut a night to remember by demolishing hapless Roy Meissner inside two rounds. Jeffries received a massive ovation during his ring walk and looks like becoming a major ticket seller on the British scene.

He came out all guns blazing and had Meissner badly hurt from a clubbing left hook within twenty seconds. He kept blazing away until a big right hook to the side of the head sent Meissner sprawling across the canvass barely a minute in, which the referee bizarrely ruled as a slip.

Meissner got to his feet but was put back on the seat of his pants seconds later when he was caught with another overhand right. He dragged himself up yet again but was dropped heavily with a hurtful right hook to the body moments after.

He managed to make it to the bell but should’ve been pulled out by his corner, they didn’t seem to think that way though and deemed him fit enough to come out for the second round. The end came seconds into the round when the referee waved it off with Jeffries using Meissner as a walking punch bag.

In a crossroads fight, Sam Webb edged out Thomas McDonagh 96-95 to record the win of his career. Webb was the busier fighter and took advantage of McDonagh’s lackadaisical approach to boxing to outpoint the more experienced man. Webb will now be looking towards a British title fight sometime in the future.

e-mail Dave Oakes