Finishing the prediction post just on the cusp of the fight, I watched the first round thinking to myself about what would happen if I had to turn back to HardDoor to write on a KO that ended the fight early.
And here I am.
A fight that was thankfully more "war" than "bore," Ricky Hatton retained his Jr. Welterweight title in an abbreviated, but entertaining bout against a game, but noticebly incapable Jose Luis Castillo before a racaous crowd in Las Vegas. The champ and challenger squared off in close-quarters combat, clinching often yet still trading barbs to the body and head. Hatton performed this the most, utilizing his usual style of grab-and-punch, but unlike his last affairs, he appeared more settled in striking more and striking often. Castillo followed his lead, but despite giving as good as he was getting, it was apparent that he appeared distant at times and slow to react properly to attacks. The action was constant until the fourth round, when Hatton dug a left hand deep into an open area on Castillo's side, dropping him almost instantly. He did not recover from the ever potent "perfect liver shot" and opted to take the full 10 count, leading to Hatton's corner swarming their victor to the showers of praise from his Manchester fans who packed the arena to see him and his brother (who fought in the previous bout) fight that night.
Afterwards, Hatton dedicated the bout to the late champion Diego Corrales, whose wife was on hand to watch and embraced the current champion (more than a few symbolic gestures here) and badly called out Floyd Mayweather, Jr., saying that he has had more entertaining action in his two best fights (the Kostya Tszyu one and tonight's) than PBF has had in his whole career (there is some truth in that...). (Error Note [06.24.07]: Upon watching the replay, Hatton actually said that there was more "action and value" in the four rounds fought than in Mayweather's whole career. Inaccurate memorization on my part. >>;; )
It was great to see a good thrashing between two fighters that I had discounted earlier, and though Castillo may need to consider hanging it up, Hatton displayed that he has at least still has what it takes to draw in the fans. I won't say he can take down Mayweather, a possible Waterloo situation, but the money and competition is back up at welterweight, where he could still be successful if he properly builds his body up for it.
P.S.: Sigh...another fight, another wrong prediction....Heck, even that 1st round notion was off-target (I thought Castillo was going to be the one to land a flash knockout)...Nice show of class, "political timing," as HBO's Jim Lampley so put it (see Hatton and Corrales tribute), and humor from the Brit (the "Ricky Fatton" shirt he wore post-fight as a poke at his weight issues between, and sometimes during, matches).