As far as Junior Witter is concerned, Ricky Hatton is not the Hitman. He's the Fugitive, and after his defeat of the Mexican Arturo Morua last night the Bradford light-welterweight says he will continue to pursue the elusive Mancunian irrespective of the outcome of Hatton's early-hours engagement on the other side of the Atlantic. But he is not holding his breath.
While Hatton was preparing to rechallenge for the International Boxing Federation title against Colombian Juan Urango, the 32-year-old Witter was making a successful first defence of his own World Boxing Council version of the belt, outboxing, outfoxing, then stopping a bemused Morua after two minutes 12 seconds of the ninth round.
Witter's performance at Alexandra Palace was very much the TV supporting act to the star billing of Hatton across the road from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
In this voluntary defence Witter found a more positive finish than when he won this title in September from the American DeMarcos Corley, but 28-year-old Morua, uncharacteristically for a Mexican, backed off from the start and had little to offer.
He simply could not fathom Witter's switch-hitting style and had lost every round before succumbing to a standing count as the champion finally cut loose with a flurry of hooks and uppercuts, referee Tim Adams stopping the fight. Witter admitted: "My timing wasn't quite right but the power was there. His tactics confused me because Mexicans usually come forward."
Just how junior Witter remains compared to one of boxing's senior pros can be judged from the size of their respective purses. He picked up £62,000 while Hatton's jackpot in the gambling oasis was £1.4 million despite the fact that Witter wears the most authentic of the various championship labels.
Witter, from Brendan Ingle's hit-and-hop-it school of pugilism, still believes a showdown between him and Hatton would be one of the domestic duels of the decade, and there are many in boxing who support that view. But if it doesn't happen, then he has other big fish to fight including the winner of the title eliminator between Vivien Harris and Juan Lazcano and then, he hopes, the former lightweight champion Diego Corrales.
"The boxing public want to see the champion fight true challengers," Witter said. "Hatton has never boxed a mandatory challenger in his life for any title at any weight. All I want to do now is get the recognition I feel I deserve. The main thing for me is to keep winning and make some good money, beat reputable challengers and get a unification fight. I am happy to go to America and prove myself against the best in the division."
Unfortunately while Witter may win over American opponents, he is a tad too pedestrian to win over American audiences.Reuse content