Boxing: Lockett has puncher's chance of world titles

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The Independent Online

In a week when David Haye brought a new dimension to self-promotion while Ricky Hatton plumbed new depths of self-delusion, the Hayemaker and the Hitman highlighted the vicissitudes of big-time boxing.

Haye, who aspires to be heavyweight champion of the world, confirmed that he is to act as his own impresario, whereas Hatton, whose winning performance against the valiant Juan Lazcano left him looking more like Rocky than Ricky, confirmed that he may be his own worst enemy.

Haye and Hatton are two of boxing's most engaging characters, able to articulate with more than just their fists. Gary Lockett is another of that breed. In Atlantic City next Saturday, Lockett will attempt to replenish the fast-diminishing stock of British world champions. To do so he will need Haye's punch and Hatton's gumption.

His opponent, the unbeaten Kelly Pavlik, from Ohio, is arguably the hardest puncher, pound for pound, around today. He makes the first defence of his WBC and WBO middleweight titles against the 31-year-old Welshman, having stopped or KO'd 29 of his 33 victims.

Pavlik, 26, is marked up at10-1 on to give similarly short shrift to Lockett, whose own record of 30 wins with 21 KO's and just one defeat, five years ago, looks reasonable enough on paper to give him the proverbial puncher's chance. Like him, Pavlik has been on the floor but gets up to win. As Lockett says: "This fight could be all about who gets hit on the chin first.

"I know no one gives me a snowball's chance in hell, thinking I'm going to get hammered. But I've come up the hard way, fighting in small halls for little money. I'm hungry and dangerous. Pavlik's good but he's no Mayweather. He doesn't have his all-round game. I've got a gameplan and a good chin."

Lockett takes his inspiration from his stablemate Joe Calzaghe, and also from Lloyd Honeyghan, who in the same New Jersey gambling citadel 22 years ago registered the biggest upset on US soil by a British fighter when he beat the seemingly invincible world welterweight champion Don Curry.

"Honeyghan was given no chance, but he ripped Curry to shreds," said Lockett. "I've watched that performance on video and it showed me the attitude I'm going to need todo the same." Setanta, who have added Haye to their burgeoning pugilistic portfolio, gamble that Lockett can land his own haymaker, screening the fight live at 1am on Sunday.

Like Haye, Lockett has everything to fight for, but Hatton's refusal to recognise that soon he may have nothing left to fight with should be of concern to all who admire him.

Fortunately Hatton's next scheduled opponent, Paul Malig-naggi, is not the most devastating hitter. Even so, after the Homecoming that became a Happening, Hatton should make this date the Last Hurrah.