Wednesday, May 31, 2023  |



On the scene: Hatton didn’t want to go out a loser

Fighters Network

LAS VEGAS – Ricky Hatton said it would’ve been easy for him to walk away from boxing after he was brutally knocked out by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in December 2007.

He’d already won four major titles in two weight classes and earned all the money he could ever spend, a fine career if there ever was one. However, he wasn’t about to walk away after his first encounter with adversity.

That’s not how he wants to be remembered.

“I’d done so much in boxing,” said Hatton, sitting relaxed on the steps leading the ring in which he’ll do battle with Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at the MGM Grand as about a dozen reporters fired questions at him. “When I was beaten, I could’ve throw in the towel and said, ‘Oh, well.’ That’s not how legacies are made, though, not how great champions are made.

“ÔǪ Not only did I get beat, I was knocked out. Everyone was thinking I was past it. What a comeback, what a story it would be to beat the best fighter pound for pound. That’s how champions are made.”

Another Briton, Naseem Hamed, went the other direction.

The flamboyant three-time titleholder from Sheffield, England, was undefeated when he was soundly thrashed by Marco Antonio Barrera in 2001, fought once more a year later and then never again stepped foot into a ring.

“That’s a shame really,” Hatton said. “Naseem Hamed was one of the greatest fighters Britain has ever had. But everyone remembers how he bowed out, not all the great things he did in the ring. A shame.”

Calm and cool: Hatton couldn’t have been more relaxed than he was as he sat on those steps, answering questions, joking, a man at total peace with himself and the task at hand.

Obviously, he believes he’s fully prepared for the challenge he’ll face in four days and has no doubt whose hand will be raised in the end. The fact he’s been through it before also helps.

“Sometimes in Vegas, mainly in the Mayweather one, I got caught up in all the hullabaloo of the occasion. I’m more relaxed now. Technically I’m boxing much better than I was. Three, four fights ago, maybe Pacquiao would’ve beaten me. I don’t think so now.”

This will be Hatton’s fifth fight in Las Vegas.

Southpaw issue: Several observers have pointed out that Hatton has had problems with left-handed opponents, of which Pacquiao is one.

Hatton had a tough time against Luis Collazo in his first fight at 147 pounds in 2006 and he faded down the stretch against Juan Urango in his next fight, although he beat both of them by decision. Eamon Magee put Hatton down for the first time in his career in 2002 before also losing on points.

Hatton said no one should read too much into those fights.

“I’ve never lost to a southpaw,” he said. “A lot of people think I’ve struggled. I was supposed to fight (Juan) Lazcano and five weeks before there was a change and I fought (Luis) Collazo. I went straight up in my first fight as a welterweight and fought for a world title. Maybe I didn’t do 147 very well. It was only five weeks. Sometimes you need a few fights. I like to think the size of Collazo is why I struggled.

“Against Urango, if you remember, I had an illness that was well documented. It seems like I have an excuse for everything at the minute but these are genuine reasons.”

And Pacquiao, he pointed out, isn’t the trickiest southpaw out there.

“He’s a southpaw who can get hit,” Hatton said. “When he misses, sometimes he leaves himself open. He tries to put so much into that left hand. I think that’s what (Juan Manuel) Marquez did against him. He was patient, waited for him to miss. ÔǪ Marquez hurt him, others have hurt him.

“We can all get hurt in boxing. Compared to Marquez, (Marco Antonio) Barrera and (Erik) Morales, though, he’s going to get hit by someone who is 14, 16 pounds heavier than that lot.”

For the record: Hatton suggested there might be a misconception that he’s portraying himself as a brawler-turned-boxer since he took Floyd Mayweather Sr. on as his trainer before the Paulie Malignaggi fight November.

Far from it, he said.

“Everyone thinks that because I have a new training camp that all of a sudden I turned into a twinkle-toed jab-and-move boxer,” he said, drawing laughs. “I haven’t. I’m still aggressive, still a body puncher, still as ferocious as ever. I just technically (worked on things) here and there, jabbing more, moving my head more. Everyone says I’ll resort back to the old Ricky Hatton. Resort back to what?

“I don’t think I’ve changed a great deal. I just think I’m a little more polished in certain areas.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]