I bet Ricky Hatton would tell you that since his retirement he still shadow boxes every time he looks in a full length mirror! Or at least feels like doing so! And every time he watches a light-welterweight or welterweight contest, he feels he could beat either of em!
Ricky Hatton is a boxer first and foremost, promoting, managing, coaching and business will still take a back seat in his subconscious at the moment, for when he evaluates himself and takes a closer look in that mirror, and when he is truthful with his soul, he’ll say to himself, ‘who you kiddin? your still a boxer you fat b……..d! Have another fight! or knowing Ricky words to that effect.
There comes a time in a boxers life when you have to admit to yourself that ‘its over! Its a sad day, but reality is cold in nature, when even ‘maybe’ has left the building. A boxer comes to a time when the ego and pride give in to age and they shed the layers willingly. That time has not yet arrived in Ricky Hatton’s life, he will know when it has and wouldn’t even contemplate a comeback if it had.
I’m sure he knows that he will never be the fighter he was, of course he cant, but he is still just about young enough to be even able to seriously contemplate getting in there again for a fight or two before it really is too late.
Ricky will announce his return to the ring on Friday for a comeback fight in November at the MEN Arena in Manchester. The arena that saw many of his big nights, including his win over Kostya Tszyu in 2005 for the IBF light welterweight title, his crowning moment and the last time the Manchester fighter graced his spiritual home, outside of Hyde, Maine Road and The City of Manchester Stadium.
The MEN has had a few big fight nights before and since Hatton, but only Mike Tyson, Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and David Haye have been big enough boxing draws to make it worthwhile booking the monster arena. There was only one local man who could pack that place out proper and that was the ‘Hitman’ and maybe Peter Kay.
This week we heard former England cricket captain Freddie Flintoff was going to become a professional boxer and make his debut at heavyweight at the MEN arena on November 30, yes no small hall show for Freddie, but the largest indoor arena in the European Union with a capacity of 21,000 and one of the world’s busiest indoor arenas has been chosen. Now I don’t know too much about Cricket, but I have heard of Freddie Flintoff, but he and novice heavyweight boxing must be more popular than I’ve given em credit for.
When Ricky lost to Manny Pacquaio in May 2009, he’d had enough of boxing long before that fight, but we’ll speak about that later. After that devastating first round defeat Ricky went on a drug and booze bender, shit got out of control and he was in a crisis in his life, hey that’s life! We all live experiences, make mistakes if you like and sometimes hurt the ones we love. But God help us we do enough of the righteous things and learn something along the way from them mistakes, were all the same.
Ricky is now in a different place, the last three years have tested his resolve and he came out of it the wiser. During this transition Ricky officially retired from fighting, he probably believed it then too. He’d invested heavily in his life outside of actually fighting, by promoting and managing fighters and needed to make it work and put his past behind him and he was ready to get his teeth into his new business. Out of boxing shape then and with no sudden desire to ever even think about going through a killer of a training camp again let alone a fight. His fighting days were over and he then officially announced his retirement in July 2011.
Ricky told his self he’d not done too bad looking back, obviously proud of what he’d achieved, a fighter who would always be remembered, plus he’d made a good few bob out of it too. He was ready to do what an ex boxer is expected to do when he retires, make sure he doesn’t piss it all up the wall and invest it into something substantial, that was to be his boxing business and Hatton Promotions, many have done the aforementioned.
With business bolt ons such has his fitness gym, online TV channel and website covering boxing and his own branded clothing and boxing equipment venture, Hatton had invested a heavy chunk of his ring earnings. The promotional company snapped up a host of fighters to represent there banner and began to put on their own boxing shows, with TV backing from SkySports for the big shows, success was guaranteed.
But the investment put up was always going to take sometime to recoup and Halcyon Days can often have the tendency to turn into dark night’s and Hatton Promotions had to restructure, cost cut and adapt to balance the books. The company has gone through changes recently with Ricky becoming the CEO.
Boxing promotion and the hemorrhaging of money, seem to go hand in hand, making a living from the boxing business is far from easy in more ways than one. Only the elite get the true life changing rewards in financial terms. And the boxers who can sell tickets, self promote and more importantly in this day and age get a promoter with TV backing, it’s the only way to earn big money in the hardest sport of all. Most of the star undercard fighters and many domestic title holders you watch, still hold down full time jobs. And managers and promoters struggle to get bums on seats enough to cover the bills and the boxers purses. The biggest blow for Hatton Promotions was the news that they would not be getting a new TV deal with Sky!
So just when Hatton Promotions needed a new business strategy, who should be feeling re-energised and back in love with boxing after regaining some fitness through his coaching duties, non other than the companies flag bearer and the one man capable and more than willing to sail the Hatton ship through tricky waters in these recession hit times.
Of course if he as expected he does return in November it will not be just be for money or to ignite his company and to get a new TV deal. I don’t believe he or his family would even allow him to get back in the ring if he didn’t have the desire and more importantly the commitment to do it properly and put his body through the pain of a fight camp and then the dangers of a fight if he wasn’t 100% serious.
If he needed some added inspiration, there is the fact that many people rely on him for a living and some of the boxers who he has signed are TV fighters who will require the correct wage packet, without TV backing that is hard to guarantee.
Ricky felt that his fledgling company had been unfairly treated by Sky’s shun and was disappointed after helping make them millions of pounds when he was fighting on there network and Hatton revealed how upset he was at getting told the bad news second hand and by email.
If he had been pondering a comeback, then that news must have had the effect on Ricky, like watching a Rocky film! I bet he went for a run that night and smacked the heavy bag about for a few rounds. The seed of a return that he’d planted in his mind, sprouted through and the comeback dream was born with all factors and karmic influences falling into place.
Any talks with a potential TV executive Hatton Promotions had, regarding broadcasting their future shows and showcasing thier championship boxers and rising talent, would have been en-lightened to hear that a first show would have the ‘Hitman’ himself on it.
The clamor for tickets to see Ricky’s comeback would be massive. Nostalgia from the die hards who followed his best nights in his heyday would there to re-live the good old days. The fans who never made it and are still gutted they didn’t wont want to miss it this time, plus a new generation of fans who heard about the Hatton MEN years, but were too young to remember or go.
With a selection of quality boxers in his stable at the moment they’d be absolutely honored and excited to feature on the Hitman’s comeback undercard. Names such has Scott Quigg, Rendall Munroe, Martin Murray, Anthony Crolla, Ashley Theophane, Denton Vassell, Richard Towers, Sergey Rabchenko, his brother Matthew and many others will be in contention in what will be the be one of the biggest fight promotions of the year.
Ricky’s not skint he made millions from boxing and could live comfortably not doing much if he wanted too. but he is a fighter and when a fighters backs against the wall, he comes out fighting. Before during and after the Pacquiao defeat, Ricky was going through the motions. His publicised fall out and court case with long term friend and trainer Billy Graham was a sour point in Ricky’s life and didn’t do him any favours mentally.
He began training with friend Lee Beard after the split with Graham and then acquired the services of the flamboyant American Floyd Mayweather Senior. It was clear that all wasn’t settled in the final two camps of his last fights and Ricky although he performed well stopping Paulie Malignaggi in the 11th round in November 2008. All was to become more apparent in his next fight with the Filipino pound for pound king and then the spiral into depression which followed.
The Ricky Hatton of September 2012 is in a different place to the one who walked into the Priory in September 2010 after a year of turmoil in his private life. He and partner Jennifer have had a baby girl since and he seems happy in himself and looks to have got through the worst of it and come out the other end.
The recent weight loss suggests he is looking after himself and he has rediscovered that great feeling again of working out and being fit, whats more he seems to be enjoying it now. The recent shape Ricky is in, is what initially set the tongues wagging about a potential comeback.
The shape he is in make no mistake about it, is fighting shape and you don’t lose three stone like that by just cutting out the kebabs and Guinness for a few months. Ricky has been taking all the required nutritional requirements and training hard to get like that. He could glide into a 10 week full on training camp now, without having to get fit first.
Ricky never wanted to go out of boxing on his arse, well not if could help it! He never deserved that and it wouldn’t be a fitting tribute to the man, given what he was and what he gave to boxing.
But if ever there was a time to make that move and banish them ghosts that still exist in his mind, then now is the time! He will never be so fit and still just within the age boundary at 33. Any older than that just looks a bit too old doesn’t it? It is now or never.
So who would he fight? I think we can safely say it wont be Freddie Flintoff, Ricky’s weight is right down now and Freddie needs a few more rounds under his belt. It looks like Oscar De La Hoya has ruled himself out, after he said Hatton’s ring return rumors had inspired him to go for a run and get in the gym, but then realised it was a bad idea and knocked it on the head.
British champion Junior Witter’s name has been whispered in the boxing inners, but an unlikely comeback opponent, a fight between the pair never got made when both were in their prime. That fight though would be all wrong for a comeback, Hatton wants to win and look good doing it, Witter would make for a long spoiling affair I’m sure either way, but a future fight would be a seller again for old times sake.
Former foe and current WBA welterweight world champion Paulie Malignaggi was the name doing the rounds on the social networks. But jumping straight back into a world title shot isn’t feasible for Ricky and more than likely wouldn’t be sanctioned. And I think you can safely rule out Amir Khan too.
Another name popping up has been Graham Earl. Earl hasn’t fought himself since June 2009 and is still remembered for his amazing fight with Michael Katsidis in February 2007, Earl was eventually stopped in the 5th but put up a brave showing and going out on his shield. Earl had announced his own return to boxing last year, when he was attempting to fight Katsidis in a rematch in Australia, but the BBBofC wouldn’t allow him to take the fight. If he would be considered part of a shortlist is not known outside Hatton towers. But whoever is on that shortlist you can bet the chosen one will jump at the opportunity.
Lovermore Ndou is reportedly being considered seriously has Hatton’s next opponent and the 41-year-old South African has also expressed his intention to face the British boxing icon.
The last time Hatton fought in Manchester, 58,000 people attended Manchester City’s football ground to watch their hero outpoint Juan Lazcano in May 2008, I expect they will be banging the MEN doors down for tickets if the return of the Hitman is imminent.
Representatives of Hatton’s are expected to meet officials from the British Boxing Board of Control today or tomorrow to discuss a licence for the two-weight world champion to resume his fighting career.