Ricky Hatton. Just the mention of his name evokes the words “Legend” and “Greatest of all Time” to resonate in the minds of boxing experts and casual fans alike. At the peak of his career he sat firmly atop the light-welterweight rankings and fought off almost every competitor that wanted to seize the title belts from “The Hitman”, and he has the accolades to prove it. A phenomenal 45 wins is enough to justify the term “Greatest of all Time” and his many boxing titles he has held spanning across his acclaimed career unquestionably shows that Hatton is one of the greatest boxers Britain has ever produced.
Over four years since he last stepped into a boxing ring to compete; a loss against Vyacheslav Senchenko in November of 2012, Ricky Hatton has gone on to do an array of different roles outside of being a professional boxer. I managed to get in touch with him while he’s spending time across the pond in America and he happily agreed to answer some questions:
“Ricky, it is widely thought that you are undoubtedly the best ever British Light-Welterweight, and rightly so, but that journey to the top starts at the bottom. What inspired you to venture into a career of boxing in the first place?”
“When I was a kid I watched Bruce Lee films and started kick boxing at the gym because I’m short and I was always getting beat, so I went into the Louvolite boxing gym in my home town of Hyde and it all started there.”
After a fantastic and successful amateur career, Hatton turned professional at the age of 18. He made his professional debut in 1997 with what would be a first in a commanding 43 fight winning streak that lasted for over a decade and that would take him all around the world; headlining enormous venues and events. From a small professional fight in Widnes to open a career that would carry him across the Atlantic numerous times.
“You’ve had a glistening and distinguished career made up of 48 bouts, 45 wins and consisting of many title belt tenures. Of all those 48 fights, which fight stands out as a defining moment in your career or the one that changed your career path in boxing?”
“Without doubt my finest moment was when I beat Kostyra Tszyu to win the IBF light-welterweight world title at the Manchester Arena, in my home town in front of a sell out crowd. This fight opened the door to the big fights and my trips to America and topping the bill in Las Vegas.”
Just three years after capturing the belt Hatton was headlining at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas against Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Unfortunately, after a valiant and threatening effort against another fighter branded as one of the greatest ever, Hatton succumbed to a TKO loss in the tenth round. Ricky took this painful loss hard and admits he suffered from depression due to the loss and a second defeat in a later fight against Manny Pacquiao.
“You’ve, admirably, been very open about your difficult journey with mental health and substance misuse and your own experiences have helped countless others. How are mindsets meant to be shifted about mental health so that athletes are more open about their problems?”
“People need to not be scared and open up about their problems, I think the stigma of depression is being lifted. Admission is the bravest part.”
A prominent character trait of Hatton’s is his devout support for Manchester City. He entered the ring in his fights to the roaring sound of City anthem Blue Moon and Ricky’s ever so faithful following creates an atmosphere almost more suited to a football match than boxing bout. He has fought with the club crest brandished on his fighting attire with pride and has always been a lifelong follower of the club.
“Away from boxing, you are renowned for being a passionate Manchester City fan. What are your thoughts and opinions of how the season has gone and where do you see City finishing at the end of the season?”
“I don’t see us winning the Premiership unless we can string some really good form but we are still looking good in Europe, the FA cup to go at. I think the pace of the Premiership has been a shock to [Pep] Guardiola and I think next year is the when we will hit the ground running.”
With the team City have at their disposal; City “hitting the ground running” may be all top flight English club’s worst nightmares. If the team had shown the fighting spirit this season that “The Hitman” had exhibited at all of his fights then the Premier League table may have looked completely different.
Ricky Hatton is always in the discussion for “greatest British boxer” alongwith the likes of Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe, but the abundance of boxing talent competing today provides welcomed competition for that title. Great fighters are on display as they compete against each other such as David Haye and Tony Bellew, but Hatton thinks another name is destined to go onto even bigger things than he already has…
“Many consider the British boxing scene to be thriving with talent as of late with the likes of the ever so present and star-studded heavyweight division to fellow Manchester residing boxer Anthony Crolla. Do you see British boxing only getting bigger and are there any boxers you see destined to reach the same heights that you achieved?”
“We have an unbeaten Heavyweight champion in Anthony Johnson, he’s a down to earth young man who is very popular. If anybody can then AJ can.”
In the four years that have passed since Ricky finally called it a day on his incredible career, he has gone on to pursue other goals both in the world of boxing as well as straying away from the fighting environment and into new ventures. Hatton admits that, even though the thrill of competing in a boxing ring isn’t present anymore, his life post-boxing is still exciting.
“You retired at the end of 2012, what endeavours have you been pursuing since then and what plans or aspirations do you have for the future?”
“Since I retired I have concentrated on training and promoting boxers. I have a stable of six or seven young prospects from the UK based in my gym in Hyde, Manchester and I also train Zhanat Zhakiyanov and Kiryl Relikh who are both world rated.
My promotions company puts on some small hall shows around the UK. I am also in demand to do personal appearances and television work and I do stand up, which I enjoy. So life is never dull.”
Hatton still has a huge influence in boxing with Hatton Boxing and is training and promoting some big names as well as up and coming fighters. The call for Ricky to appear on television too shows that even if he isn’t in the spotlight of a boxing main event anymore, the spotlight of mainstream media is still firmly on one of Britain’s greatest ever fighters to put on a pair of boxing gloves and step into a ring.
I can’t find another way to describe Ricky Hatton other than the initial thought that pops into people’s minds when his name in mentioned; legendary. Any boxing fan who has ever watched one of his fights should feel lucky that many of us have been able to watch his prodigious career unfold and reach the heights that he did. We can make comparisons to other fighters but the truth seems to remain the same; it will be a while before we are honoured with a fighter as formidable and awe-inspiring as Ricky Hatton.
By Harry Robinson