Boxing: Witter's broadside for bloated Hatton

Hint of peace between Hit Man and former promoter - and talk of a duel to make fans drool

"Look at the state of his face," observed one ringsider as Clinton Woods posed for the snappers, hands raised wearily aloft in triumph, after retaining his IBF world light-heavyweight title against Glen Johnson in Bolton last weekend. But it was not the gutsy Sheffield man's visage, bruised and swollen as it was, that caught the eye - it was the bloated features which belonged to the famous figure by his side, Ricky Hatton.

"I thought he looked more like Bernard Manning," observed Junior Witter after watching the live telecast at his Bradford home. "It was disgraceful. How can any professional allow himself to get so out of condition?"

It is true that puffy, podgy Hatton, who was was doing the mentoring bit in Woods' corner, seemed more like a super-middleweight than a light-welterweight, the division he once dominated. "He had a double chin and a beer belly," added Witter disparagingly.

For years he has harangued Hatton, unsuccessfully trying to entice him into the ring, but the Hit Man always claimed that he had bigger fish to fight. "We all know Ricky likes a drink between fights, and good luck to him, but how long can he go on doing it before that sort of lifestyle catches up with him? If I allowed myself to get that much out of shape I'd never get back into it."

Witter, of course, has a vested interest in Hatton's welfare. On Friday, at London's atmospheric Alexandra Palace, he meets the American DeMarcos Corley for the vacant World Boxing Council title, generally regarded as the most authentic and hardest to win. It is one that the once multi-belted Hatton has never held.

Corley, who has campaigned with distinction against the best in the division and held the WBO version himself, is smart, experienced but beatable, a tad past his sell-by date. It should be a cracking scrap for the Ally Pally audience, which might well lead to Witter's long-awaited showdown with Hatton some time next year, though he isn't banking on it. But with the litigation between Hatton and his estranged former promoter Frank Warren suddenly shelved, there is talk of a rapprochement once Hatton's remaining two-fight contractual deal with the American TV network HBO has been fulfilled.

Hatton v Witter, in the former's old stamping ground at the MEN Arena in Manchester, would be an appetising domestic duel on a par with Woods v Joe Calzaghe, which, if last week's public handshake between Warren and Woods' promoter, Dennis Hobson, can be taken at face value, might also be realised.

But looking at Hatton, one wonders whether he has two more fights left in him since giving up the version of the world welterweight title he won somewhat fortuitously against Luis Collazo. He may diet and dry out yet again to boil down to the 10st limit for his next bout - now rescheduled for January - but at what cost to his body? Might he be going to the light-welterweight well once too often?

That is not Witter's immediate concern. The European champion knows he must box far more positively than he did in his previous world title attempt, when he came in at short notice and fought on the back foot towards a tame points defeat against Zab Judah on a Mike Tyson undercard in Glasgow six years ago. "I kicked myself all the way home afterwards," he admitted.

The counter-punching Witter is a product of the Brendan Ingle school of self-protective skills, which has honed some of the nation's finest hit-and-hop-it talents. Not least the currently unlamented Naseem Hamed and the enduring, though not endearing, Johnny Nelson. Ingle has always reckoned that Witter would "stand Hatton on his head". "Ricky's a terrific body puncher but he's easy enough to get away from, and easy enough to read," argued the fast-paced switch-hitter Witter.

Getting Friday's even-money bout, to be screened live at 10pm by Sky, has been a major coup for the energetic London promoter Mick Hennessy. Corley, like Witter, is 32 and has mixed in quality company, with the redoubtable Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Judah featuring prominently on his 36-fight record. He lost to all three, but gave them trouble.

"He's quick and dangerous," says Witter of the Washington southpaw. "The real deal. I was 26 when I fought Judah [his only defeat in his own 36 bouts] but in boxing terms I was still a boy. I hadn't even fought for a domestic title. Now I'm a man, stronger and punching harder."

A rhythm and blues man, too, when it comes to dancing - his main passion outside boxing. Witter has always been as nifty on his feet as he is with his hands. It is a formidable combination which could be enough to see off the fading Corley on a night when the late-blooming Junior finally becomes one of boxing's senior pros.

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'