Trainer Buddy McGirt stopped the fight in the 11th round, and Ricky Hatton retained his junior welterweight championship with a rather dominant performance against top-ranked contender Paulie Malignaggi on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Malignaggi had trouble from start to finish against Hatton, essentially, winning the first round but that's about it. Hatton hurt Malignaggi in the second round and had him hanging on for dear life, and shook him up a few more times during the fight.
It was the slickster Malignaggi who held and held, and after the fight, Malignaggi complained openly with Larry Merchant of HBO about the stoppage. "I'm better than getting stopped," he said, while classy about both Hatton and the British fans in attendance.
Frankly, from my perspective, the stoppage did seem a bit selfish on Buddy McGirt's behalf, as Malignaggi failed to implement his advice over and over during the fight. McGirt, honestly, has had plenty of failures over the last couple of years. It's totally speculative and I may be reading more into it than necessary, but McGirt's body language with the stoppage seemed more annoyed and frustrated than concerned. Maybe it's only me, but I didn't particularly like the stoppage at all. Paulie was losing, yes, but he was battling to finish the fight. Not getting stopped is a big deal to him. He wasn't getting killed in there or anything.
Brian Vera, though, was getting killed in there by James Kirkland when referee Vic Drakulich stepped in to stop the action in the eighth round. Vera had gone down twice (once in the seventh, twice in the second) and was getting tagged routinely by Kirkland. He did show that Kirkland's power was not amazing, I guess, but he didn't disprove that it's very, very real. Vera's a tough, tough kid, but he took a beating.
We'll have much more tomorrow on both fights, so come back then. Thanks for joining us tonight!