By Clive Bernath
Bradford’s British & Commonwealth light-welterweight champion Junior Witter has told SecondsOut that he will ‘destroy’ WBU king Ricky ‘Hitman’ Hatton when the pair meet in an all British showdown, sometime in July, 2003.
There is no love lost between the two northern-based fighters, who have been verbally sparring each other for the last 18 months. Both fight on the same bill at the MEN Arena, Manchester on April 5, as a prelude to the summer clash. The exciting undefeated Hatton takes on former IBF light-welterweight champion Vince Phillips while Witter clashes with former Hatton victim Mikhail Krivolapov. But Witter’s mind is firmly fixed on Hatton and he only sees only one winner.
Thing is I know I’ve got the power to go out there and destroy him, insisted Witter. And if I can’t get him out of there then I’ve got the skill to be able to move around him and cut him up. Any which way I want to take it on the night then thats the way it will go. There is nothing Hatton can do about it but take it or quit.
The Bradford based braggart has always had a reputation as being an awkward switch hitter but just lately, he has developed a knockout punch to go with his silky skills, as three consecutive second round stoppage wins over Laatekwei Hammond, Lucky Sambo and Giuseppe Lauri, have proved
I’ve always had power but I haven’t actually used it, yeah, said Witter. But I’ve also gained that extra bit of power I’ve done my work in the gym and worked a lot with Brendan (Ingle) and Dominic (Ingle) on the pads, on power shots as well. That has given me that little bit of extra power. Thing was I did not use the power in previous fights but I am now and it’s noticeable.
Over the last year, the 28 year-old has looked very impressive in winning the British & Commonwealth light-welterweight titles. But that has not always been the case. British fight fans and indeed the important American market, still have nightmares when reflecting on Witter’s negative, to say the least, performance against Zab Judah for the IBF light-welterweight title in June 2000. Witter ran like a thief for 12 uneventful rounds, prompting American cable network, Showtime to reportedly say that Witter would never grace their screens again. Witter looked overawed that night, so makes him think the same won’t happen again against hurtful body puncher Hatton?
Thing was I learned a lot in that fight, reasons Witter. Theres no doubt about it. But I know when that fight (Hatton) comes off, I’ve no qualms whatsoever. Theres no one else in there, no excuses. I’ve got to go out and do it. If I don’t do it its gonna look bad on me, so I’m gonna do it for me. Nerves are not gonna play a part in it.
With the Judah fight, I went out to box, not get knocked out. I tried to win, I’m not saying I didn’t try to win and I did well for the first half of the fight. I got caught with some good shots but I have got a good chin. But at the end of the day he didn’t land a succession of punches on me. And he couldn’t because I didn’t let him. He was a little bit negative, especially in the last half of the fight I thought. But you live and learn. I’ve learnt so much from that fight that it will never happen again.
It is no secret that Hatton has had problems with southpaws in the past, you only have to reflect back to the very first round of the Eamonn Magee fight to see that. Hatton was put down for the first time in his career but still got up to grind out a unanimous 12 round decision. So Witter is right when he says that his switch hitting style could cause Hatton many problems.
He (Hatton) has had problems with southpaws, said Witter. I switch. I’m southpaw I’m orthodox, I’m always switching, you never know, I don’t know. I don’t think anybody switch hits like me. I can switch with every shot I throw. I know I can do that and do it well. As far as being awkward for him, it will be an absolute nightmare for him. Thats what I do. And I’ll go out there and I’ll hit him and I’ll drop him.
Witter vs Hatton is seemingly a genuine grudge match with both men venting their anger out on each other on this site in the past. But is there real animosity between the top two British light-welters?
It hasn’t always been like this but since he’s been on the scene it has got worse, said Witter. They say he is the Golden boy, the next big thing since sliced white bread . I don’t by it. It’s a case of he’s been in my way for too long. I’ve always said I’ll box him. But its always been a case of ‘he’s not ready’. Then theres, ‘we want to go for this title’. Theres always something. I’ve been waiting for him for ages.
I should have got the British title shot when I beat Mark Winters but he got the title fight. And when I was the No.1 contender for the British he gives it up when he should have fought me. So he has been winding me up. His management have protected him, wrapped him up in cotton wool, that’s what annoys me. I’m just gonna do a job on him. He’s in my way, it’s his bad luck.