Only in boxing could a fighter lose a comeback fight by knockout and then be hyped by a promoter as deserving of a world title shot. That's what we've got as Richard Schaefer is still trying to sell a Ricky Hatton-Paulie Malignaggi rematch.
Ricky Hatton lost his comeback fight by ninth round knockout today in Manchester, falling to a left hook to the body by Vyacheslav Senchenko, and after the fight he announced his retirement.
But Golden Boy Promotions chief Richard Schaefer isn't giving up on the idea of a rematch between Hatton and his fighter, WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi. From The RING:
"I don't think that Ricky Hatton should let his head hang, and that he should build on this," said Schaefer. "If he should want to have [rematch] against Paulie Malignaggi, and fight for the WBA welterweight championship, I'll be happy to see if we can put that fight together."
... "Everybody had agreed that, prior to the fight, that Ricky had picked a difficult fight for his first one back after three and a half years out of the ring. So, having said that, I have to say that he looked very good, and that he was ahead in the fight, and that he was ahead on the scorecards. I have to say that in the first five rounds, in my book, they all went to Ricky Hatton."
Now, I'm not sure if Schaefer got wind of Hatton announcing his retirement at the press conference after the fight before he said this or not, so if he didn't, that's one thing. He says he's thinking April or May for the fight.
Honestly, and I know "this is boxing" and thus we're supposed to just be like, "Oh, that crazy ol' boxing! What will they think of next!" I find this pretty off-putting. I mean, it's brazenly transparent to try and squeeze money out of Ricky Hatton after today's fight.
I'll concede that if Hatton were to continue on and win a couple fights, even if they weren't against big-time opponents, you could still find a way to make Hatton-Malignaggi II work. The argument that he was good for five rounds today and the opponent wasn't easy, though, isn't a good one when you're trying to convince the public that the fight should happen, especially in the immediate future.
Victor Ortiz was also beating Josesito Lopez on the official cards when his jaw was broken and he had to stop that fight in June. Without the injury, would Golden Boy have given him the Canelo date on 9/15 as originally planned?
Boxing is a business and all this, and Hatton did a phenomenal crowd today in Manchester, but do his passionate fans really want to see him again, especially in a fight where he'd be expected to lose? Last I checked, world title fights are 12 rounds, not five, and Paulie Malignaggi is tougher to hit than Vyacheslav Senchenko, so at this point, I can't figure where Hatton's hopes would come from against Paulie. In 2008, Ricky pasted him, but that was 2008. Next year is 2013. A lot changes in five years, and the years have been tough on Ricky Hatton.
My hope is that Hatton won't be enticed by a money offer to rematch Malignaggi, because he may have gone down today, but he went out on his shield, and he hopefully leaves with his head held high -- on that part, I agree with Schaefer, that Hatton has nothing to be ashamed of with today's performance.
But it's not a fight that should happen in April or May. Golden Boy should bite the bullet and find something else for Paulie Malignaggi. Something less lucrative than the Hatton rematch would have been if all had gone well, but all didn't go well for those plans. Things change in boxing, and set-up fights don't always work out. Move on, and move forward. There's no shortage of welterweights out there. Maybe Pablo Cesar Cano would like a rematch. Maybe Senchenko would. Or are those just too silly?
One fighter who says he's ready to fill in for Hatton's (assumed) lost spot against Paulie is fellow New Yorker Dmitriy Salita:
"I just want it to be known that I want the fight with Paulie. I will not disappoint! I heard Paulie may want to fight in April, if that's the case I have no problem fighting Gabriel Bracero before. Now that the Hatton fight is not on hand, I want Paulie. I know that Paulie called out many of the top fighters that he fought and got the match. I am doing the same to him!"
Well, maybe they should give it to Hatton after all.