Comment: New generation of Manchester champions do justice to Hatton’s legacy

It’s June 4 2005. The noise is deafening. 22,000 fans crammed into the M.E.N. Arena have finally seen what they have been waiting for.

Ricky Hatton is crowned the new IBF Light Welterweight champion after a brutal 11th round stoppage of Australian Kostya Tszyu.

Disposed champion Tszyu was never to fight again but it was the start of a wonderful journey for Hatton and his fans.

A few months later he went on to unify the division, claiming the WBA title by defeating Carlos Maussa.

FIGHTING PRIDE OF HYDE: Hatton’s fans were renowned as as the world’s best

Hatton was made 2005 Ring Magazine fighter of the year and went on to more massive fights in Manchester and over the pond, before relinquishing his unbeaten record to pound-for-pound kings Floyd Mayweather Jr, in December 2007, and against Manny Pacquiao in May 2009.

Hotel staff and residents in Las Vegas still talk about the 25,000 fans that reportedly travelled to support ‘the lickle lad from Hyde’ take on Mayweather.

Ten years on and regular fights of that magnitude have been few and far between, but the glory days are well on their way to returning as Manchester is once again being touted as the UK hotbed of boxing talent.

Terry Flanagan, Anthony Crolla, Scott Quigg, Tyson Fury, Amir Khan, Martin Murray and the Scouse Smith brothers are just a few of the Manchester born or trained fighters that make up the new crop.

Out of that bunch we have three current world champions, two fighting for world titles in the very near future and others who in the next 12 months could be doing the same.

BETTER THAN HATTON: Frank Warren was effusive in his praise of Manchester’s newest champ Flanagan

The momentum and hype really began to build up again in July at the Velodrome in Manchester. Unbeaten Terry Flanagan stopped Mexican knockout artist Jose Zepeda in round two to claim the WBO Lightweight strap and became the first Englishman to win a Lightweight world title.

He then retained his title in October with another second round stoppage, this time against Diego Magdaleno.

A 15-year-old Flanagan was in the crowd for that Hatton fight 10 years ago and according to him it was the moment that he decided to take the sport seriously and aim for the top.

His promoter Frank Warren claimed after the second round stoppage by Flanagan eclipsed anything as explosive as what Hatton did in his career.

And with the bouts being lined up thick and fast for our local fighters, MM takes an in depth look into the ones that are set to really catch the eye.

1) Anthony Crolla vs Darleys Perez, November 21, Manchester Arena

First up is Anthony Crolla. As I write this he is on the cusp of a winning a first world title and after the problems he has faced recently, this would be an amazing achievement.

No one ever said that reaching the top was ever supposed to be easy but the 29-year-old Mancunian has had it harder than most.

After a few earlier losses in his career ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla improved and was able to put himself in contention for major honours. 

But then disaster struck. Crolla sustained life-threatening injuries after tackling burglars near his home in late 2014. His scheduled world title shot at Richard Abril was duly cancelled.

After disturbing the thieves when he went to investigate an alarm going off at the home of his next door neighbour, Crolla was struck by a concrete slab.

A fractured skull and broken ankle later and he was lucky to escape with his life. The following weeks were all about recovery and it wasn’t until six months later that he was able to prove his fitness and was given another chance.

Crolla, (29-4-3-KO11), came back in July and after he produced a career-best performance against Darleys Perez at the Manchester Arena, many thought that he had done enough to take the title after the Colombian was deducted two points for a low blow in the later rounds.

In the end though the fight was scored as a draw in what was one of the most controversial fights of the year. Calls for an immediate rematch in the aftermath were very strong and the powers that be obliged.

Crolla will take on Perez again on November 21 at the same venue for the WBA Lightweight title where he will try to put right the wrongs he feels he has suffered in recent times.

Verdict: Crolla on points.

2) Arthur Abraham vs Martin Murray, November 21, TUI Arena, Hannover, Germany

No one can accuse Martin Murray of taking the easy path when it comes to choosing fights.

The St Helens-born boxer, trained by Oliver Harrison in Salford, has gone up against the very best on his quest for a maiden world title.

The bout in Germany – on the same night as Crolla’s in Manchester – will be Murray’s fourth world title attempt with the previous three having been to no avail.

His most recent loss came to the masterful superstar that is Gennady Golovkin in Monaco and the other to Sergio Martinez where he travelled to the hostile Argentina, a notoriously difficult place to go and win.

His first world title fight was deemed a draw against Felix Sturm, again in Germany.

The 33-year-old still awaits a world title and with time running out, there surely wouldn’t be a more popular world champion within the boxing fraternity than him.

Verdict: Murray with an early TKO.

3) Wladimir Klitschko vs Tyson Fury, November 28, Espirit Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany

Another fighter with world title aspirations is Tyson Fury.

The aptly named heavyweight from Wythenshawe certainly talks the talk and so far he is yet to taste defeat throughout his pro career. His 24-0 record would hold up better however if he had ever fought anyone worthy of real acclaim.

His upcoming fight against the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will provide his sternest test yet.

Similar to Crolla, Fury has been unlucky recently after twice having bouts with David Haye cancelled and his upcoming date with Klitschko put back originally due to an injury to the Ukrainian. 

Although Klitschko is many people’s favourite to win the fight in Dusseldorf Fury thinks he has the edge, and believes his game plan will upset the rhythm of the champion.

Fury originally stated that he would retire if he lost the fight and has since said he may do the same even if he were to win.

“Beating Klitschko will cement my place as the best fighter in the world,” he said.

Verdict: Klitschko TKO.

4) Scott Quigg vs Carl Frampton, February 27, Manchester Arena

Bury-born Quigg is already WBA super-bantamweight champion but is looking to continue his quest to unify the division when he takes on unbeaten Northern-Irish IBF belt-holder Frampton next February.

This was originally touted as a British title match up a couple of years ago but both parties held out, both fighters remained undefeated and now are faced with something much, much bigger.

The eyes of the world will be on Manchester with arguably the best two fighters in the division locking horns in this super-fight.

Such is the global draw of the bout that the start time has been put back to the early hours of the morning to accommodate viewers in the USA.

Both men boast impressive records, and Manchester will be buzzing as 10,000 Frampton fans descend on the city – part of the conditions to the fight being made were to split the 20,000 capacity down the middle.

Verdict: Quigg TKO.

Images courtesy of iFL TV, via Youtube, and Laura Cornertey, via Flickr, with thanks

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