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Page last updated at 20:48 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Malignaggi warns ref over Hatton

RICKY HATTON V PAULIE MALIGNAGGI
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas Date: Saturday 22 November
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live (0400 GMT) and live text commentary on BBC Sport website. Live on Sky Sports from 2100 GMT.

By Ben Dirs in Las Vegas

Paulie Malignaggi
Paulie Malignaggi has 25 wins from 26 professional encounters

Paulie Malignaggi has pleaded with referee Kenny Bayless to "do his job" and snuff out any roughhouse tactics from Ricky Hatton on Saturday.

Malignaggi faces Hatton for the de facto world light-welterweight crown.

"There's no problems with inside fighting unless there's a Ricky Hatton fight involved," said Malignaggi.

"The rules aren't enforced when Ricky fights, they just let him do it. But Kenny Bayless is a good referee and I expect him to do his job."

However, New Yorker Malignaggi, who has 25 wins from 26 professional encounters, added that he would be prepared to mix it up with Manchester's Hatton if things get dirty.

Ricky likes his wrestling and grappling and maybe he has a career in MMA after he's done with boxing

Paulie Malignaggi

"I'll see how it evolves and if need be I'll be dirty back, said Malignaggi.

"I've learnt that at this level, fouls go on and the referee turns a blind eye and I won't be complaining.

"But nobody ever complains about a referee breaking fighters except when Ricky's fighting because referees want to see action just as much as fans.

"And if you're wrestling you've got to be broken up or have a point taken off. Ricky gets broken up because he holds.

"Sometimes there's a little bit of double standards with Ricky Hatton fights - with [Jose Luis] Castillo and [Kostya Tszyu] they were free for alls and with Floyd [Mayweather] it was back and forth.

"Ricky likes his wrestling and grappling and maybe he has a career in MMA after he's done with boxing.

"He throws punches and grabs you, because he has no defensive ability. So what he does is land his punch and then grab you behind you neck so that you can't slide away and get underneath the punch."

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Despite his concerns, 27-year-old Malignaggi said he was confident Bayless, who was recently voted the WBC's referee of the year and who has taken charge of 40 world title fights, would address them.

"The [Miguel] Cotto-[Antonio] Margarito fight was an inside fight almost all the way, but when there was clinching Kenny instantly said break and physically broke them," said Malignaggi, who is the bookmakers' underdog for the fight.

"But when they were both moving their hands on the inside, he let it go. When there's any kind of holding Kenny doesn't think twice about breaking, as he shouldn't think twice on Saturday night."

Meanwhile, Malignaggi said he hopes Hatton's fans would respect the United States national anthem, unlike last December before his fight against Mayweather, when it was roundly booed.

"You don't want the national anthem disrespected, particularly as Ricky's got the chance to make all this money in our country," said Malignaggi.

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"They [Hatton's fans] should be appreciative of that, but sometimes they get a bit drunk and do what they've got to do."

Hatton, 30, who believes the booing during the Star Spangled Banner at the same venue, the MGM Grand, 11 months ago turned referee Joe Cortez against him, has also called upon his fans to show respect.

Hatton said: ""I've got the best fans in the world, but please don't boo the national anthem this time. Certain people took exception, mentioning no names."

see also
Ben Dirs blog
20 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Hatton rediscovers his twinkle
20 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Hatton Sr backs coaching regime
19 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Hatton v Malignaggi photos
20 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Hatton's seven best - and worst
18 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Hatton beyond help - Malignaggi
10 Oct 08 |  Boxing


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