Manchester star Terry Flanagan sneaked into ringside for Ricky Hatton’s epic fight against Kostya Tszyu a decade ago and now looks to be crowned world champion himself in his home city.
Flanagan challenges for the Vacant WBO World Lightweight title against American knockout sensation Jose Zepeda on Saturday 11th July at the Manchester Velodrome (National Cycling Centre), live and exclusive on BoxNation.
Tickets for ‘Turbo’ priced at £40, £50, £75, £100 and £150 will be available from Eventim on 0844 249 1000 and online at www.eventim.co.uk
As a 15-year-old amateur, Flanagan wanted to go to Hatton’s defining moment against Tszyu at the M.E.N Arena, but couldn’t afford to buy a ticket.
That didn’t deter Flanagan who used his quick feet and slick skills – which he now employs in the ring to amass an unbeaten 27-fight record – to get himself from the first tier to inner ringside where he was up close with his idol.
The cheeky youngster even asked Hatton team member Bobby Rimmer if he could have Ricky’s gloves and then congratulated then pound-for-pound great Tszyu on his performance.
Now Flanagan looks to use that same steel determination to win the world title on the 10th Anniversary year of Hatton’s glorious night.
“There was absolutely no way I could have bought tickets as they were too expensive for a 15-year-old kid!” Said Flanagan.
“But it was a fight that I had to be at, no matter what, and I made it my target to get into the M.E.N Arena so I said ‘I’ve got to try and get in’.
“I went down with a mate of mine and I managed to get inside the entrance which was the first obstacle out of the way, but I lost my mate and from then on it was a solo mission,”
“I got knocked back a few times from stewards as I tried to get through the doors leading to the arena, but then I managed to push in behind someone and just kept walking down the steps and got into the first tier!”
“So for the first couple of rounds I was sat there and it was such an electric atmosphere with everyone glued to the action in the ring I then managed to slip down to the ringside seats for the eighth or ninth round.”
“Then when Tszyu didn’t come out for the twelfth round it just went absolutely mental in the crowd and I jumped over the barrier into the inner ringside to where Hatton was being interviewed on TV,”
“I knew Bobby Rimmer and thought I’d chance it, as I’d had a good run that night, to ask him for Ricky’s gloves. He said, ‘You can’t have them because Ricky puts them in a frame’, it was a bit cheeky, but I thought what the heck. Then I got to congratulate Tszyu, I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something like ‘you’re a great fighter’, but I was caught up in all the excitement of Ricky’s win.”
“Funnily, I don’t think I would have the guts to do something like that now, maybe there is a kid who is going to sneak into my fight against Zepeda and have the same story to tell in ten years time, who knows!”
Now the 25-year-old aims to create history and become the first Englishman to win a world lightweight title if he defeats power-punching Zepeda who has stopped 20 out of his 23 victims, with a blistering 16 KO’s coming inside the first three rounds.
He added, “I can’t believe that was ten years ago and I was just some kid who enjoyed boxing and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would now be challenging for the world title in my home city almost a decade to that night. I have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure this is all real.”
“It will all be real in the ring when we’re trading punches and the prize is to become world champion. But that same determination to get me ringside is the same desire, focus and determination that I show in the ring and that’s why I will win the world title.”