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Preview: Hatton -vs- Castillo!

World Jr Welterweight Champion Ricky Hatton and Former Two Time Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Castillo were showcased in separate 140lb matches back in January on an HBO World Championship Boxing Doubleheader, with Castillo just barely winning a split decision over previously undefeated Herman Ngoudjo and Hatton dropping back down to 140lbs with a comfortable unanimous decision win over Juan Urango who was also previously undefeated.

Regardless of how lackluster their performances may have been, the two were finally set to meet each other on June 23. Tomorrow night, at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Hatton and Castillo will finally meet in a much anticipated showdown that is expected to be one of the most exciting fights of the year.

Castillo is coming up in weight, regardless of what anyone else says. He may have been a natural 140lber for a long time, but the fact of the matter is, his opponents were not natural 140lbers. He was fighting lightweights, and he was a bully in the process, against those lightweights. He fought at 140lbs for the first time, against Ngoudjo, and almost got exposed in that fight by a 14-fight novice who was a natural 140lber.

Many of you may recall, that on June 8 of this year, Ngoudjo, in first fight back since the close decision loss to Castillo, barely edged out former WBO beltholder Randall Bailey. Bailey has not accomplished anything of note in the last seven years! Not only is Hatton a natural 140lber, but a legitimate 140lb world champion who's fought guys bigger than Castillo.

In May 2006, Hatton moved up to the welterweight division of 147lbs and fought then WBA Welterweight Champion Luis Collazo in Boston, MA. Hatton won a disputed decision over Collazo, in a fight in which many boxing fans and experts including yours truly believed Collazo had done enough to win the fight and retain his title. That was Hatton's only fight at that weight class to date, but it illustrates nonetheless that Hatton has the size advantage over Castillo.

Although he does it really well, Castillo fights one way. He comes forward and throws a lot of punches. He throws precise shots, and he has fast hands, but that's what he does in the ring. Hatton has shown an ability to fight a couple different ways. He can box a little bit, but he can also stand toe to toe, put the pressure on, and steam roll opponents with an accumulation of punishment.

Castillo is not going to be in there with a lightweight come June 23. He'll be in there with a natural 140lber who is fighting at his most effective weight.

Prediction:

Due to the fact that Castillo fights one way (albeit extremely well) and Hatton can do a few different things in there, I believe Hatton's slightly superior versatility (primary ability to come forward and throw a lot of shots, but also the ability displayed in the Urango fight to box when needed) is going to make the difference in this fight. I'll pick Hatton by convincing UD in a competitive fight, which is exciting at certain times. Castillo may be the better overall fighter, but the man's been in wars. You can only go to the well so many times and come up with fresh water. This should be a wild and entertaining affair, but I look for the younger and fresher fighter to eek this one out. Odds are this will be a memorable battle.

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