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Friday, April 10, 2009

Ricky Hatton Wishes He Could Slip Manny A Mickey!

Ricky just wishes he could slip Manny a Mickey.

That’s Richard John Hatton, the popular British boxer, who a boxing date with destiny in Las Vegas on May 2 against big betting favorite Manny Pacquiao.

The Mickey who Ricky dreams of being the middle between he and the Pinoy Idol when the opening bell rings is world class and veteran English referee Mickey Vann.

In Hatton’s dream world he would back up the “Vann” so to speak and quietly bring in his longtime “house referee” from his homeland into the Nevada ring.

I counted up at least 11 pro bouts, starting with an Aug. 17, 1999, six-rounder against Mark Ramsey in Doncaster, UK, where the colorful Vann was the third man in the ring. Hatton took a six-round decision that night and scoring ref Vann called it 60-56 in favor of the Mancunian. It was Ricky’s second victory over Ramsey.

Vann, now age 65 and at the tail end of a long refereeing career which included many world title bouts, also was the ref when Hatton fought Leoncio Garces, Tony Pep, Jason Rowland, John Bailey, Freddie Pendleton, Mikhail Krivolapov, Eamon Magee, Aldo Rioas, Carlos Maussa and Ben Tackie.

While Vann’s integrity has never come into speculation, let’s say that Frank Warren, the boxer’s ex-promoter, Ricky and his father, Ray, all liked how Vann would permit the clutching, holding, headlocks and other wrestling techniques to be used against Hatton opponents.

The past, though, won’t be prologue in Vegas as it’s likely that the Nevada commission will assign its highest-rated referee, no nonsense Kenny Bayless, to work the big match against Da Pacman.

As even-handed as Bayless is—and he is a ref who lets fighters fight and discourages grappling moves—the question from the Pacquiao camp led by Coach Freddie Roach is whether Hatton will be allowed to do his patented, hit and hold ringwork.

And, of course, going with Bayless makes political sense because it’s a showing of neutrality in a bout between two visitors, a Filpino and an Englishman.

One former Hatton camp insider told and Boxingconfidential that Hatton’s nostalgia for the loose and relaxed officiating of Vann can’t be underestimated.

“Ricky really misses Mickey because Mickey let him get away with all the clutching and holding. Hatton developed the style for two main reasons. One, even though he was young and fresh back then, his libertine lifestyle with food and drink often left him in less than pristine condition. Hittng and holding became an ingrained habit.

“There is concern in the Hatton camp now that this older version will be able to fight Manny full steam for only five, maybe six rounds, before the old petrol (gas) tank is completely empty. They are worried that Bayless or any good American ref won’t tolerate that stuff.”

If you’ll recall, southpaw (as is Pacman) Luis Collazo complained bitterly about how Hatton throws a punch and then makes like an octopus. They fought in Boston and Hatton went home with a controversial points victory.

Before his Vegas bout against the Brit, New Yorker Paulie Malignaggi sounded the alarm about Hatton’s grasping tactics.

“There is no issue with inside fighting unless Hatton is involved,” the Italian-born, Brooklyn resident said before Hatton beat him. “Referees want to see fighting, to see action just like the fans do. Ricky has no offensive so he does the holding. He will hit you and then grab you to try to win a round.”

For its part, the Hatton camp has often complained about refs, including Joe Cortez who handled Hatton’s TKO loss to the nonpareil Floyd Mayweather.

Vann wrote a biography entitled “Give Me A Ring.” He grew up in Dickensian foster homes and worked as a child in a circus sideshow. He’s lately become a rugby league coach for the Leeds Rhinos.

As competent as he’s been as a referee and judge, Vann was inept as a pro boxer. As a featherweight, he compiled a 2-9 record was belted out five times.

Now let’s take rugby, they say it takes leather balls to play the rugged sport.

Unlike boxing, that’s where hitting and holding mix perfectly.

Sorry, Ricky, dream on. No way you can slip Manny this Mickey.


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