Ricky Hatton welcomes everyone to join him and celebrate the anniversary of his monumental IBF world title victory over the outstanding champion of the day Kostya Tszyu in his home city of Manchester 10 years ago in front of 22,000 fans. The event which commemorate the historic boxing moment will be Las Vegas party style doo, held at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester on Saturday the 13th of June 2015.
The events aim is to be one of the best parties Manchester has ever witnessed and Ricky will be going all out on production for the Las Vegas theme, with aerialists, magicians, casinos and much more.
The first wave of acts to be announced are a real Madchester affair and include the bands Northside, The Complete Stones Roses, The Happy Mondaze, Oasis Experience and former Happy Monday’s dancer Bez will be performing a DJ set on the night.
The iconic, multi-roomed venue will also host be an experiential area that plays homage to the Hitman’s fantastic boxing career. Fans in Ricky’s hometown of Manchester, who Ricky believes are the best in the world, will also get a chance to meet and greet the legendary boxer himself.
There’s Only One Ricky Hatton!
Was there ever a British boxer, supported and loved as much as Ricky Hatton MBE was during his career? Only Frank Bruno, Henry Cooper and Barry McGuigan come close. We do as a nation get behind our boxers, especially the ones who are transparent, approachable and wear their heart on their sleeve, no one typified this more than the Hitman.
It is 18-years since Hatton burst on the scene in a leisure centre in Widnes with a first round KO. He wiped out most of his early opponents without contemplating ever going through the motions. You could see the young Mancunian was on a mission and in his 11th fight he picked up the Central area title, then came the WBO Inter-Continental light-welterweight title in his 13th fight, making 6 defences of it and picking up the WBA version along the way.
In his 22nd fight Ricky picked up the British title in a 12-round war with Jonathan Thaxton, which set him up nicely for his next fight, his first shot at a version of a world title, the WBU belt against American Tony Pep at Wembley Arena, Hatton stopped Pep in the 4th and claimed the vacant title. After 15 defences of it, mostly at the Manchester Arena in front of his Northern faithful, who packed it out and got behind him, as he worked his way through the rankings to the titles that really mattered to him. He now wanted to test his skills and realise his ambition to take on the very best, He wanted the long established world title belts now, the ones held by the best fighters in the world, he was ready to step up and test his skills against the them.
It was 2005 and Hatton was in the prime of his career, In step the force that was Kostya Tszyu the Russian born Australian based light-welterweight phenomenon of the day who had been dominating the division and sending chills through the division after disposing of a number of top names and many fans and well respected scribes and experts written off the Hitman’s chances against Tszyu. Hatton realised he was now at elite level and would have to fight like never before to defeat the Aussie.
Hatton jumped on Tszyu from the opening bell and swarmed the champion with punches to body and head from every angle. He couldn’t afford to let the big hitting champion get into the fight and he didn’t. In the end his pressure fighting paid off and an exhausted Tszyu quit on his stool (RTD 11)
The night still remains in the memory and will go down in boxing folklore as one of the outstanding wins from a British boxer. Hatton’s career now exploded like nothing he could have expected, the fans loved his one of the lads attitude and the media lapped it up, Ricky was now a celebrity household name and was set to take part in some of the biggest boxing events in the history of the sport.
After one defence of the title back in Manchester at the arena, America now beckoned and the bright lights of Las Vegas called for Hatton and the Vegas years began. Massachusetts was the first state that welcome the English Hitman as he stepped up a weight division to claim the welterweight world crown against Luis Collazo, Ricky was on the top of the world as a two weight world champion and in his next fight stepped down to light-welter again to rip his old IBF title off Juan Urango and claim the vacant IBO belt, his 4th world title.
In June 2007, Hatton really caught the eye of the fight world and the elite, when he ripped in a text booked left hook into the floating rib of Mexican legend Jose Luis Castillo in the 4th round. It was a real crowning night and some occasion for Hatton and his fans and Las Vegas loved the British influence pouring into their casinos singing and dancing to the sound of the Hitman’s drum. After the fight in the post fight interview Ricky called out the man he had been aiming for, the No1 pound for pound boxer in the world Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather who lives in Vegas took Hatton’s call out as an insult and called for the fight, it was on, Ricky had reached the well and was ready to take on the biggest boxing challenge of his life against one of the all time greats.
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Over 25,000 people travelled over to Las Vegas to watch Hatton take on Mayweather in December 2007, an unprecedented jamboree that is still talked about by the staff in the hotels and bars in Sin City that for a week were dominated by British accents and their bars ran dry.
Hatton gave Mayweather one of the toughest fight of his career, but fell to his first career defeat in 43 fights, getting beaten by the American in the 10th round after giving it his best shot and gaining Mayweather’s respect. It was a tough defeat for Hatton to take at the time because he and his coach Billy Graham were convinced they had the tools to dethrone Mayweather but it wasn’t to be and back to the drawing board they went.
He landed back in Manchester still a hero to the fans, he took his defeat well, or so it seemed and Hatton did have a point when he questioned referee Joe Cortez’s insistence in breaking up the action when ever he got inside on Mayweather, where he felt his best chance lied. But Hatton conceded, ‘I might still not have won!’ But he wanted a fair chance to fight his fight. Hatton was still convinced he had plenty more to give and planned to get back in the ring and continue, content in the fact he had pushed the very best and there was plenty more left for him to target and accomplish. Or that’s how it seemed from the outside, inside Hatton later admitted it was after the Mayweather loss that was the start of his personal problems that saw him spiral into depression, such were the ups and downs in that period.
Things did look to be back on track and in May 2008, five months after Mayweather, the Hitman returned to the ring in-front of 58,000 fans at his beloved Manchester City football club ground. It was a special night and Ricky’s homecoming after his exploits in America was welcomed and celebrated it unprecedented fashion. Hatton took on Juan Lazcano that night and in truth laboured to a 12-round points win, it was not vintage Hatton, but we could easily forgive him and looked forward to seeing him mixing in the bigger league again soon.
After the Lazcano win, Hatton split from his long-time professional trainer Billy Graham, citing Graham’s hands were that damaged through years of padwork, that he was unable to give the fighter what he needed at the top level. It was a nasty episode in his life and a big turning point in his career, an added pressure and fuel to his already unstable mind and his battle with alcohol and drugs.
Again from the outside things appeared ok, he had uncannily employed the service of a new coach in Floyd Mayweather Snr, and planned to take on Paulie Malignaggi back in Las Vegas in November 2008. It turned out to be one of Ricky’s best performances that night. He outboxed the boxer, out punched him and then impressively stopped the tough New Yorker in the 10th round. It was another big high for Ricky and it put him back up there and in situ for a fight with the new recognised pound for pound No1 Manny Pacquiao, who had now took the mantle after Mayweather announced his retirement after defeating Hatton.
The Manny Pac fight was arranged for May 2009 and again the fans gathered in numbers to make the pilgrimage to the city of lights to back him. It was clear from the first bell that night, Hatton was not the boxer and force he had been. After a torrid first round, he was knocked cold by Pacquiao in the second. It was one of the most sickening sights to witness that night and everyone close to Hatton suffered heartache. The British fans were in shock and everyone who had taken this boy next door character to their hearts were saddened by his demise.
When the dust settled and Ricky had landed home, the adrenaline departed, the hangers on’s fled and the cold light of day and reality of where his life was sunk in, his depression resurfaced ten fold and he hit an all time low in his life. The split from Graham bared heavy on his heart, the loss to Pacquiao, the drink and drugs were there to mask his inner pain and then a big family fall out with his Mam and Dad tipped the scales and his depression reared it’s head worst than ever. Hatton admits that during the worst periods, he contemplated suicide and couldn’t come to terms with how his career had ended and the spiders web of pain his life had become.
In the past boxing had been his therapy, the gym his haven and now he didn’t have them. Any boxer will tell you, when a boxing career is over they never reach the heights or replace the highs it brings, the adrenaline reserves are never accessed in that way again.
In 2012, three years after the Pacquiao KO, Ricky made an unbelievable announcement that he would make a comeback. He had got himself in tremendous shape considering the amount of weight he had accumulated during his time out. Mentally he was in a better place, not quiet there, but he was speaking to professionals and had spent a period at the priory. He felt he owed it to himself to give it one last crack, see if he still had it and if not just get it out of his system, before it consumed him for good. He needed a comeback opponent and many believed he would have chose a push over to shake off the inevitable ring rust, no one would have blamed him if he chose a easier comeback fight than he did. He announced he would be facing former world champion and highly ranked Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko at the MEN Arena, back where he dethroned Kostya Tszyu. He believed It would serve some kind of redemption for him, prove something to himself and banish the demons that still lurked.
After a bright start to the fight and flashes of the Hitman of old, Ricky started to suffer as the fight entered the middle rounds. It was clear he was not the force he was before. Senchenko a world ranked contender on the comeback trail himself rode out the storm and began to come on strong as the fight wore on. It was a 10-round contest and it looked like Ricky would get through it as the fight entered the penultimate round. Ironically it was a body shot that ended Hatton’s hopes, the same shot he himself had ended so many fights in the past.
The emotion that night and the sight of Ricky sobbing in the ring choked up even the hardened protagonists in the hurt game. It all seemed surreal in the immediate aftermath and it was hard to see how he would respond to the loss and if it would set him back personally how his previous two losses had. The immediate ringside interview shed no light and confused even more, our hearts bled as he was put on the spot while the tracks of his tears still bore.
But in the hour from leaving the ring to conducting the post fight interview, something in Ricky clicked, contentment and clarity entered his pyshe, he knew what he would tell the waiting press and the fans who debated where he would go from here and then he spoke with an air of calm.
“I needed one more fight to see if I had still got it – and I haven’t, I couldn’t have done any better. A fighter knows and I know it isn’t there any more. I have got to be a man and say it is the end of Ricky Hatton.
“I got in the best shape I possibly could but if I hadn’t been hit with that body shot I would have just scraped over the line. It’s too many hard fights, I’ve burned the candle at both ends, I’ve put my body through the mire in and out of the ring. I’m a happy man tonight. I don’t feel like putting a knife to my wrists.
“I have got the answers I needed. I can look at myself in the mirror and tell myself I did my best.” a reflective Hatton said.
It wasn’t the ending to fight he anticipated and not the one the fans wished for, but it was real it was not for effect, it was reality and Ricky accepted it. He lost on his terms, he picked the opponent, he took the punches and he knew for sure, he was not the force he had been, he knew it was over and was content to accept, admit and move on to a new life. It was the start of Ricky Hatton’s growth as a person, he could leave fighting behind knowing now he had done all he could to reach them heights again.
Since his retirement Ricky has stuck with what he knows and is now a boxing promoter and trainer with a stable of up and coming prospects at his fantastic purpose built gym and fitness facility in his home town of Hyde, Manchester. He is content with his lot and has three children who he dotes on. Past personal events have yet to be healed and it was sad recently to hear he still hasn’t spoken to his parents or to old trainer Billy Graham since the fall outs, which is a shame, hopefully time is an healer.
Ricky will go down as one of the best British post war boxers, certainly the most supported. There is only one Ricky Hatton and he will not be forgotten by all those who were touched by his story and the drama he brought. God bless you Ricky and all the best for the future.
Ricky Hatton career highlights