Boxing: Hatton spoiling for a fight

Ricky Hatton has itchy fists and Joe Calzaghe has a spot of bother with the law. Promoter Frank Warren's few days in Portugal in preparation for next Saturday's fight night at Manchester's MEN Arena hardly turned out to be the R and R he was hoping for.

Ricky Hatton has itchy fists and Joe Calzaghe has a spot of bother with the law. Promoter Frank Warren's few days in Portugal in preparation for next Saturday's fight night at Manchester's MEN Arena hardly turned out to be the R and R he was hoping for.

He returns to find there's trouble at'mill with his two unbeaten headliners.

Hatton, the WBU light-welterweight champion, has been making disquieting noises at not being given someone of more consequence than one Carlos Wilfredo Vilches for the 13th defence of his title. He feels he should now be meeting better men, for bigger belts, and has made his frustration known.

Warren promises he'll deliver on Hatton's request next time out, on 1 October. If not the BBC, who would give Audley Harrison's right arm to have the Hitman in their corner, might start making themselves busy again. But whether they could meet Hatton's demand of around £500,000 a scrap - which he now gets - is another matter.

Hatton should dispose of 27-year-old Vilches without too much difficulty before the traditional capacity crowd in his home town. The Argentinian has lost only four of his 41 bouts but is no Wild Bull of the Pampas.

Junior Witter looked smooth and sharp in winning the European title inside two rounds against Italian Salvatore Battaglia in Nottingham last week, a victory that gives his persistent challenge to Hatton greater credibility. Hatton is up for it, but his US TV backers ShowTime might not be. They are keener to see him take on the WBA champion Vivian Harris, of Guyana, or Americans Paul Spadafora or Sharmba Mitchell.

What Hatton is really seeking is the sort of contest that pits the WBO super-middleweight champion Calzaghe in a tough challenge for the IBF light-heavyweight title against the holder, redoubtable Miami-based Jamaican Glencoffe Johnson, last seen here in February giving a boxing lesson to Sheffield's Clinton Woods, with whom he had previously drawn.

Normally you would expect the southpaw Welshman to triumph again, but his preparation has been fraught. Last week he was arrested, and bailed without charge after an incident at the Newbridge home he still shares with his estranged wife, Mandy. There had been allegations of "threatening behaviour".

In 40 fights, 35-year-old Johnson has suffered nine points defeats but he has never been stopped. Calzaghe needs to be totally focussed, and one hopes his domestic distractions will not affect his performance. Similarly Scott Harrison, who defends his WBO featherweight title against William Abelyan on Warren's Glasgow promotion a week later. He is to stand trial over an alleged assault. Vexing times for boxing.

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