The singing started long before Ricky Hatton entered the MGM Grand Garden ring Saturday and continued long after he stopped Paulie Malignaggi with an 11th-round technical-knockout in their junior welterweight bout.
"There’s only one Ricky Hatton,
"One Ricky Hatton.
"Just walkin’ along,
"Singin’ a song,
"Walkin’ in a Hatton Wonderland."
The Hatton parody of "Winter Wonderland" returned to Las Vegas louder and more boisterous than ever. Unlike his prior appearance at the Grand Garden when Floyd Mayweather Jr. dominated him on Dec. 8, Hatton didn’t disappoint the majority of the 9,053 in attendance this time.
With Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr., working his corner Saturday, Hatton was quicker, smarter and more fluid. He dominated Malignaggi, swarming him, not giving him a chance to use his jab effectively.
Hatton wore down his Brooklyn, N.Y., opponent, and with 28 seconds gone in the 11th, Malignaggi’s corner had seen enough. They asked referee Kenny Bayless to step in and stop it, which Bayless did.
"I enjoyed this fight a lot more than the last time I was here," said Hatton (45-1). "I was in a new camp with Floyd, and I showed a lot of new stuff."
Mayweather Sr. said he was pleased.
"You can’t say six or seven weeks is a long time, but people can see he can get a lot better than he even was tonight," he said of Hatton’s performance.
Malignaggi (25-2) was more upset that his corner stopped the fight than anything Hatton did to him.
"This goes down as a knockout on my record, but it shouldn’t be," Malignaggi said. "I’m fine. I wasn’t hurt. I was worse off in the Miguel Cotto fight, and they didn’t stop it then. Why should they stop it now?"
His trainer, Buddy McGirt, saw things differently.
"My guy was hurting, and I wanted him to live to fight another day," McGirt said. "I didn’t want to see him get seriously injured. It only takes one shot. I’d rather him be mad at me for stopping the fight rather than getting hurt and never fighting again."
Hatton, who closed as a minus-240 betting favorite, started strong and never let up. He rocked Malignaggi in the second round, nearly sending him to the canvas with a big right to the side of the head. He used a straight left hand in the third and fourth rounds to stun Malignaggi, who found himself constantly holding in an attempt to hang on.
Ironically, it was Malignaggi who was complaining before the fight about Hatton’s penchant for holding and hitting. Yet here he was, guilty of the same tactics, far more so than Hatton.
All the punishment Malignaggi absorbed negated the few times his jab was effective. Hatton snapped his left effectively all night, and Malignaggi had no answer.
"I was dropping my shoulder and allowing my punches to flow," Hatton said. "I slowed down, and I was more composed, and I used my left jab.
"When I was getting frustrated, Floyd helped get me back on track."
He nearly dropped Malignaggi with 40 seconds to go in the eighth round, but Malignaggi somehow stayed on his feet. It was more of the same in the ninth as two big Hatton left hands stunned Malignaggi, backing him up, but he stayed off the canvas, holding on for dear life.
He was in survival mode as Hatton was way ahead on the judges’ scorecards. But Malignaggi could last only so much longer, and after getting tagged yet again at the start of the 11th round, his corner said enough was enough.
Hatton, who made $2.5 million, had a big edge in power punches, landing 26 percent (99 of 377) to Malignaggi’s 19 percent (25 of 133). Hatton threw 516 total punches to Malignaggi’s 342.
Malignaggi, who made $1 million in what was his Las Vegas debut, admitted Hatton was tougher than he expected.
"I couldn’t get a rhythm, and I couldn’t hit him," Malignaggi said. "Ricky fought a terrific fight. He moved well, and he was difficult for me to hit.
"Maybe I wasn’t winning the fight, but I’m better than being stopped."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.Video