British boxing icon Ricky Hatton tells City A.M.’s Josh Richards how he’s overcome his demons
DEFEAT to five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather drove British boxer Ricky Hatton to drink, depression and later suicide attempts.
But, having recently watched a re-run of the titanic clash from 2007, Hatton says he can look back on that night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with no regrets.
With both fighters undefeated and Hatton, then 29 years-old, ready to test himself against the best, tens of thousands of supporters followed “The Hitman” across the Atlantic in eager anticipation.
The pair stood toe-to-toe amid an electric atmosphere until referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight in round 10 after Hatton was floored by a powerful left-hook. It was the first defeat of the Mancunian fighter’s career.
He apologised to the British fans post-match and then turned to alcohol as he struggled to cope with the feeling he had let everyone down. But, six years on, Hatton feels he can finally look back on that night fondly.
“I don’t tend to watch my old fights, I haven’t done for ages, though funnily enough I watched the Mayweather one about seven weeks ago,” said Hatton, whose autobiography War and Peace: My Story was released last week.
“And when you see his fight with [Miguel] Cotto and his fight with [Saul] Alvarez it makes me feel quite proud of how well I actually did.
“It had been that long since I saw it that I forgot how well I actually did. I had him on the rack at the midway stage, but being the fella he is he took over, but I was proud of it.”
Two years and two fights later Hatton returned to the MGM and was unceremoniously beaten by another of boxing’s finest, Manny Pacquiao, in just two rounds.
Again depression set in and this time he turned to drugs. Hatton insists, however, he does not regret any of his fights but, having hung up his gloves 11 months ago following defeat in his first bout for three years against Vyacheslav Senchenko, still misses the ring.
“Anybody who laces the gloves on wants to try and become the best in the world and if you don’t then don’t bother, go and paint and decorate or fit carpets,” he added.
“I was disappointed because I wasn’t there just to be involved. They were fights I thought I could win. When I didn’t it was very hard for me to come to terms with.
“I miss fighting everyday but it’s not going to happen now, I’ve had my day. I made a comeback briefly to see if I still had it and showed that I didn’t, but that wasn’t such a bad thing because you need to be showed that you haven’t got it any more to retire happy, because fighters always think they’ve got one more in them. Now I know I haven’t I can go into retirement a lot happier.”
Mayweather’s next British challenger is likely to be Amir Khan though the fight, likely to take place early next year, is yet to be officially confirmed.
Khan, 26, has lost three of his 31 professional bouts and is unlikely to trouble the unbeaten American.
Yet Hatton believes Khan cannot turn down the chance to test himself against the best.
“Opportunities to fight the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world don’t come along too often,” said Hatton. “Amir has been beaten and been knocked out, people have said about his chin, but he keeps getting himself back up, back in shape and back winning.
“That’s what makes boxing so exceptional and nobody deserves a shot more than Amir.
“I don’t think anybody would tip him to beat Floyd Mayweather, but he’s probably the only person in boxing that can match Mayweather from the speed point of view, that’s for definite.”
Hatton now spends his days at his Academy in Hyde coaching promising professionals like European light- middleweight champion Sergey Rabchenko and bantamweight Ryan Burnett.
And his dream is to see one of his proteges enjoy the same glittering career he did.
“Boxing has given me such a wonderful life and my kids such a wonderful future,” said the 35-year-old. “If I can pass my knowledge on and give another fighter the same life that I’ve been fortunate to get through boxing that’s what it’s all about.”
Ricky Hatton will be signing copies of his new book War and Peace at Waterstones Canary Wharf tomorrow, between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.