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Page last updated at 06:10 GMT, Monday, 26 May 2008 07:10 UK

Hatton's powers on the wane

By Mike Costello
BBC Radio 5 Live boxing correspondent

Hatton lands a punch on Juan Lazcano
Hatton defeated Lazcano by a unanimous points decision

Ricky Hatton may have beaten Juan Lazcano on points to retain his IBO light-welterweight title but if he had boxed like that against Floyd Mayweather then he would not have lasted 10 rounds.

As we walked away from the bout, I know a lot of people were saying that Hatton should retire - I don't think it's quite that grave but I do think we learned a lot.

The significant part of Saturday night was to find out how much was left after the battering he took against Mayweather last year - and to be honest, there is not much.

Hatton was rocked a couple of times against Lazcano and that told us a lot too. This was an opponent carefully designed to make him look good but at best Hatton looked ordinary.

He is a brilliant boxer but throughout his career, Hatton has always been reckless. Those attacks that look like they are whirlwinds have been planned.

You hear that boxers are the last to know when it is time to retire - that is nonsense. Boxers are the first to know but the last to admit it

That recklessness has not only made him popular, it has also been effective because it has been very difficult to read for his opponent.

But it only works if he has the strength to take the punches coming back at him. And worryingly the punches on Saturday, from a man that has spent the large part of his career in the lightweight division, were having a telling effect.

It is one of the clearest signs that there is not much left in the tank.

On Saturday he was taking too much on the way in. It may have been complacency, Lazcano has never shown any evidence of being a destructive puncher and maybe Hatton felt he could walk through him.

There were some positives.

On the plus side you have to take into account that Hatton was coming from a very heavy loss against Mayweather. It was one-sided and comprehensive and they are not easy to come back from.

As well as that, a lot of people said that because of his lifestyle outside the ring he no longer had the ability to go 12 rounds. But he did.

But the worrying element is that the 20-second bursts when Lazcano did throw something made life very uncomfortable for Hatton.

There is an argument that there is better to come but watching Hatton over the weekend you can tell that the hard nights inside the ring are beginning to take their toll.

Ricky Hatton
Hatton shows the signs of battle with Lazcano
On Saturday there was an element of re-establishing himself. In that sense, it would have been a successful night for him but the retirement calls will come.

In the 12 hours after the fight, I spoke to three former boxers and they all said he should quit.

I think the calls for him to retire are premature because of who he has got next.

The plan, right throughout the build up, was for him to face Paulie Malignaggi and he looked ropey too in his points win over Lovemore N'Dou.

The whole plan around this show was to showcase the two men on the same night to an audience here and America with a view to a meeting later in the year.

You have to believe that as they both won, the plan is still on.

Malignaggi does not hit hard, he looked awful against N'Dou and if Hatton can get some fear into his body and move his head a bit more, then it's a winnable fight.

Hatton's display on Saturday would not be good enough to beat too many of the top light-welterweights but he might just be good enough to beat Malignaggi.

Although saying that, Malignaggi is better than the guy we saw on Saturday night.

Paulie Malignaggi (L) defeated Lovemore N'Dou on Saturday
Malignaggi could take on Hatton in New York later this year
We had the ridiculous situation where Malignaggi came in with his hair braided in a ponytail which came loose the first time he took a punch. By the end of the first round his hair was hanging down over his eyes.

After a number of stoppages to tie it all up, they eventually cut these huge strands off. It was completely foolish and no doubt it detracted from his performance.

I think on the performances they both showed on Saturday, a fight between them will be very close.

My fear is that Malignaggi could just hit and move and frustrate Hatton for a dozen rounds and have the energy and the youth to stay away from him in a way that Lazcano didn't.

If he can somehow salvage something of the Hatton of old, he could win and walk away as IBF light-welterweight champion. He has always said that he would quit before it is too late.

And how much genuine hunger is still there from a man that has earned so much money?

His biggest problem will be trying to walk away from that adulation and he would not be the first boxer to find that hard.

It's fandom like I have never seen in boxing. The adulation around one man is incredible. On Saturday night the noise as he appeared at the edge of the tunnel in Manchester and even before that - was almost like a papal visit.

The adulation is the equivalent of a really hard drug, and it is so difficult to give up.

But if he thinks that this road is leading back to Mayweather, then that is much less of a viable option after Saturday night.

How would you sell a Mayweather rematch? Even with Hatton's great fanbase, who can you convince? What tells you that Hatton has a chance?

I think deep down, he will start to sense that. These guys have massive egos based on pride and he will know the mechanisms and the skills that were there against Kostya Tszyu are starting to wane.

You hear that boxers are the last to know when it is time to retire - that is nonsense. Boxers are the first to know but the last to admit it.

On Saturday night I got the sense that we are witnessing the final chapter, it just depends how many pages are left to turn.

see also
Hatton has points to prove
23 May 08 |  Boxing
Hatton criticised for lifestyle
21 May 08 |  Boxing
Hatton wary of 'demons'
15 May 08 |  Boxing
Hatton puts fans before US cash
01 May 08 |  Boxing

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