Hatton: recognition is far more important than titles

RICKY HATTON insists recognition is more important than alphabet titles after shrugging off the fact Saturday’s showdown with Paulie Malignaggi will not be for the IBF light-welterweight belt.

The 30-year-old Mancunian has twice held the International Boxing Federation title and has twice given it back to avoid making meaningless mandatory defences.

Lovemore N’Dou won the belt when Hatton last vacated it, before losing the title to Malignaggi.

Malignaggi had been set to defend the belt against Hatton only to relinquish it when the IBF tried to force him to fight Herman Ngoudjo, the number one contender, whom he had already beaten in January.

With Hatton still recognised as the premier light-welterweight fighter – his only career defeat, against Floyd Mayweather, was at welterweight – New Yorker Malignaggi is regarded as the second best fighter in the division.

Saturday’s clash at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, therefore, is for recognition as the world light-welterweight champion.

Hatton’s nominal IBO title will be on the line, as will the Ring Magazine belt — an unofficial title which is a good indicator of the champion in each division.

Hatton is happy to cut through the red tape and title talk, realising boxing fans do not need governing bodies to tell them who the champions are.

“I don’t think the belts really matter,” he said. “It’s the two best fighters in the division fighting each other.”

The ‘Hitman’ had initially hoped to take on Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden and fulfil a lifelong ambition, but insists he has no qualms about fighting in the very ring where he was stopped in the 10th round by Mayweather in December last year.

He added: “I think this fight shows what I am all about because I’m going back to the scene of the crime, if you like, the MGM Grand. It shows that I have no fear and I have the confidence to go and do so.

“I think because of the fan base I have anywhere could be seen as a home fight, they are second to none, and with the tickets flying they never cease to amaze me.

“I feel very, very proud. The American fans treat me well and it’s going to be great to go back. I’m sure I’ll have better luck than I did last time.

“For any fighter Las Vegas is the place to box now, it is the pinnacle of a fighter’s career.”

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