Emmanuel Steward hails Hitman invasion
By Ant Evans: Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward believes Ricky Hatton's American invasion will get off to a fantastic start this weekend when Britain's 'Hitman' challenges defending WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston (live on HBO in the US and Sky Box Office in the UK).
"Ricky is a big star to boxing fans in America already anyway," began Steward. "But I think it won't take too many fights over here for America to adopt him, because he's an everyday, blue collar, working type guy. He's like Tommy Hears in a lot of ways, an ordinary, everyday guy you can talk to but who is also a hell of a fighter."
Steward, who trained the original "Hitman" - Thomas Hearns - said Hatton is worthy of taking up that hallowed moniker. The Hall of Famer first met Hatton several years ago, when he visited the Phoenix Camp in Manchester, England to watch the undefeated Hitman train.
"The drive and the energy of Ricky, the way he trains, it exactly the way a Tommy Hearns or Evander Holyfield trains," Steward commentated. "I decided then to watch Ricky very closely and I know that he'll do very well over here in America.
"But he'll find things a little different over here the first time. The energy of the crowd will be different, (American) fans will be waiting to see what he's all about. I think he will pick up that same type of crowd as he has in Manchester but it won't happen until he's answered a few questions over here."
Winning the WBA title from Collazo will go some way to doing just that.
Steward will be ringside in Boston this Saturday - serving as the expert commentator for American broadcasting giant HBO. He is expecting a difficult night for Hatton against reigning WBA welterweight champion Collazo.
"This could be a difficult fight for him against Collazo," warned Steward, who has trained the likes of Lennox Lewis, Naseem Hamed, Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield and the Klitschko brothers. "If Collazo meets Ricky head on it will make for a short and very exciting fight which I believe Ricky should win but if Collazo - who's a very decent boxer -uses his reach and jab Ricky could have problems and he may have to be a little more mature about the way he goes about the fight."
However, Steward stops short of predicting the upset. "Collazo will fight the fight of his life but ultimately I think Ricky's drive and mental strength will get to him. What watching Ricky has impressed upon me is Ricky's spirit and drive. I think that is what makes him exceptional. He is a very strong-minded man.
"The only weakness I see is that I think that he will begin to really struggle with his style once he gets past 30," Steward added, concurring with the 27-year-old Hatton's own plan to be out of the sport in three years time. "That style is all youth and aggression - it is great for the fans and for the television cameras and I'm sure America will love him for it - but it doesn't serve him well if he wants a long career."
Fight Academy and Banner Promotions present the Ricky Hatton - Luis Collazo WBA Welterweight title clash held on Saturday, May 13 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, MA, televised live by HBO World Championship Boxing at 9:45PM ET/6:45PM PT.
I see hatton as a young kostya tsyzu their styles were similar in their youth. very aggresive and huge punchers. but kostya settled into a boxer puncher with age. I am not sure if Hatton would be able to make that transition
"Very few people really understand what it means to be a fighter. I hate it when I hear someone say, 'That fighter doesn't have guts. I hate that, I don't care if you're a world champion six times over or a four-round fighter, to step inside that ring, you have to have guts" Oscar De La Hoya