Ricky Hatton is a household name in the UK after becoming one of the greatest British boxers to have graced the ring. Memorable achievements for the lovable Mancunian include memorable wins over Kostya Tszyu and Jose Luis Castillo. Hatton also took on legendary duo Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas whilst also winning world titles in two separate weight classes. The “Hitman” is now a respected coach, analyst and has his son Campbell Hatton following into his footsteps by entering the sport.
Ricky caught up with us in this exclusive interview to discuss Tyson Fury’s proposed fight against Oleksandr Usyk, this month’s showdown with Francis Ngannou as well as the heavyweight division and Tommy Fury’s grudge match alongside KSI and much more.
MT: How did it come about Dancing on Ice?
RH: I’ve been beating the drums for quite a while now, I’m an ambassador for mental health and I’ve documented about how I had a bad time a few years ago. I keep telling people who have mental heath that you need to keep yourself busy, you need to keep your mind active and keep doing things.
That’s basically why I am doing it. I’ve come out of a very dark place a few years ago which is well documented, and everything is positive moving forward now for me. I did my exhibition with Marco Antonio Barrera in November and I think that inspired people after going back into the ring at 44. Because I am in such a good place, I had the phone call from Dancing on Ice and I said yes because I’m in a (positive place) now.
If I’m doing an exhibition bout, or a Sky documentary or Dancing on Ice, what I am saying to everyone who has been in the same position I have been is that you can turn it around in life. I’m not perfect, I’m still Ricky Hatton and a jack the lad, but life has changed so much for me now. If you looked at where I was a few years ago, I wouldn’t have even been invited on Dancing on Ice because I wasn’t in a good place so it’s about doing positive things in my spare time. It started with the exhibition, the documentary on Sky has come out and I feel like it’s a good time to do it because I’m getting lots of fan mail, lots of comments, lots of letters about how I’ve inspired people so as far as I’m concerned I’m going to continue to do it because I nearly lost my life, I’ve lost family and friends from mental health so anything I can do to inspire people. This is just another one of them I think.
MT: Have you started training for Dancing on Ice?
RH: Not yet. I’m a bit worried because I can’t dance on a dancefloor, so I don’t know how I’m going to do. But if you look at ice skating, I haven’t had a lesson, yet I start them next week and have 2 months of lessons coming before Christmas, and then we start it in January but there’s a lot of hard work and effort to come. As a boxer, you have to have good balance, shifting your bodyweight, upper body movement and having a strong upper body for the lifts and the best attribute I had in the ring was my footwork. I hope I’m about to take to it!
MT: Will there be any similarities to ice skating and boxing?
RH: It’s one thing with boxing – to get into the ring and have a fight with one person and just you getting in there with no teammates, it’s the hardest game. You’ve got to have self-belief in yourself and confidence in your ability and holding your nerve but if it goes tits up on the ice rink, I can’t bring a substitute on. It’s very similar to boxing and I’ve never done anything in my life that I’ve failed at. It may take me a while to get there but I love a challenge. If people know me, I’ve never been scared about having a laugh about myself so I see it as being good fun, a challenge and will inspire a lot of people from where I’ve come from to the present day to do something like this. There’s nothing negative to come out of it, the only negative thing is if I fall on my a**e and make myself look like a f***ing idiot.
I have no doubt come the night of it (I will). I haven’t done any training yet so once I’ve had a couple of training sessions under my belt, I think it will give me the world of confidence. I know it’s very hard and you have to put the hours in like everybody else on the show who put the time in but the sacrifice I had to do as a boxing, the dieting, the not going out, the training, everything that comes with it… I think everyone is out of their comfort zone on the show, the majority of the people probably haven’t been on an ice rink before in their life so we are all in the same boat. It’s about holding it together and having belief in yourself. It is a big challenge. When you think of Big Brother or the jungle or Strictly Come Dancing, I’ve picked the toughest one haven’t I! I’m looking forward to it, if I didn’t think I couldn’t do it I wouldn't have given it a go. The pluses outweigh the minuses doing this.
MT: Fury vs Usyk has been made - how big is this for boxing?
RH: We’ve been waiting for so long for AJ-Tyson, Tyson-Usyk and for Crawford-Spence. Now we’ve had Crawford vs Spence and now Fury vs Usyk has been made and there’s a trade fight in Wood and Warrington. This is good for boxing – don’t point the fingers at YouTube boxing, boxing has got to pull its finger out.
To see that fight (might) be made in January, obviously Tyson can’t take his eye off the ball in Saudi Arabia. This is positive for the sport – I don’t see why both arts can’t exist. Boxing will always have their fans, MMA will always have their fans but we are in the entertainment business. I don’t mind these fights happening as long as the real boxing fights are taking place – that will help boxing.
Thankfully the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world – the first one since 1999 – has to be good for our sport, I didn’t think it was going to happen.
MT: Is Fury the favourite for the fight?
RH: I think he is but it’s not beyond the realms of impossibility (Usyk wins). When you think Tyson has the height, the reach, he can box southpaw, orthodox, stand there, sit in there and have fight, he can sit and sway and move and make you miss off the backfoot. He can lean, counterpunch, he does everything Usyk does and he’s got the strength and weight advantage. But it’s not a foregone conclusion. I can’t see anything other than a Tyson win.
Fury has fought your Dillian Whytes, your Deontay Wilders and with no disrespect intended, the big lump heavyweights who can stand there and have it. He is the smaller man but what Tyson needs to do to adapt from his fights with Whyte, Wilder and his fight in Saudi Arabia, all he has fought is big lumps and all of sudden he’s got a smaller man who might be a little bit nippy in and out and probably causes another problem that Tyson might not have been used to for four or five years. I think Tyson wins but the size difference against the smaller man causes problems he might not have had in the last four or five years.
Usyk has a good chin but I don’t think he’s been hit by someone of the size of Tyson. The main problem Tyson is used to fighting 20 stone heavyweights. It’ll be difficult for Tyson but he’ll prepare properly in the gym, and I think he will have his game plan sorted and win the fight. But if it did go the other way I wouldn’t go ‘wow that is a shock’ but you would have to be brave man to go against Tyson because of all the advantages he has.
MT: If Fury wins, what does it do for his legacy?
RH: It was fantastic when he beat Klitschko and his three Wilder fights. That trilogy was epic. Them three fights will do his legacy no harm. Everyone was thinking Tyson-Usyk (needing to happen) so I think it would have harmed his legacy if he hadn’t have fought him. Usyk came up from cruiserweight division, became undisputed champion. It was like Mayweather-Pacquiao with everyone saying ‘who is the best’? Thankfully it is on and if he beats the other undisputed champion in Oleksandr Usyk then he has to go up there as one of the greats. This fight puts that to bed, I think he is one of the greats but people are always going to say you haven’t fought AJ, you haven’t fought Usyk but now he’s fighting Usyk.
MT: Did you think the fight was ever going to get made?
RH: I had a feeling it might happen because you put your Instagram on and Tyson saying ‘he’s going to knock him out’ and then Frank will be saying then Tyson will be saying something. Don’t mind me to say, the rubbish that was coming out but when it went quiet I thought this is a good sign. They must be deep into negotiations – the fact they’ve gone quiet I thought it was going to be announced. So when it was announced I said ‘I knew it was going to happen’. I was absolutely made up because all Tyson has wanted to do since day one, when he went through his bad stages, he wanted to be the best in the world. Then when became a world champion, he wanted to be an all-time great and he did that to his legacy with the Wilder fights and one fight he was missing out on to put the finishing touches on this legacy was the Usyk fight and I couldn’t be more happier than him.
MT: Thoughts on the Fury vs Ngannou fight?
RH: to be honest, I don’t blame Tyson with the YouTubers and the MMA fighters who are getting fights made. As long as the main fights in boxing are getting made I’m not bothered. If I’m seeing the best fight the best, they can both live with each other and work together. I just think with Tyson, before the fight was announced (Usyk), Joe Joyce was fighting Zhang, Daniel Dubois was fighting Oleksandr Usyk, AJ was doing his own thing so what names were out there? I think that was the best name out there and available at the time.
He's still a big name (Ngannou) in the fighting game so I don’t blame him. He’s made everyone eat their words by ‘fighting the man’ in Usyk even though I think Tyson is the man. Ultimately, Tyson said he wanted the Usyk fight and it’s now happened.
MT: Do you see similarities between Mayweather-McGregor to Fury-Ngannou?
RH: it’s very similar. You’ve got one of the most dangerous men in sport in Ngannou. You can see he’s a murderous puncher, massive legs, massive frame on him and hits really hard. You don’t need anyone to tell Tyson that if Ngannou hits him he knocks him out but I don’t think he will. That’s the big question going into the fight. Tyson has got the punch, the ability, the height, the reach and Ngannou has never had a professional fight in his life. The question is whether Tyson can keep out the way enough or whether Ngannou can get that one punch in to knock him and that’s what makes it exciting. If Tyson turns around and outboxes him we will say we knew that was going to happen but if he lands that one we can’t sit down and our jaws hit the floor because he can punch, he’s a unit.
MT: Does AJ need to fight Wilder next?
RH: I think so. He’s had a couple of warm up fights since Usyk now is the time for him to get in and I love AJ to bits, there’s nothing better than to see an all-British heavyweight title fight between Joshua and Fury. Tyson gets a lot of stick for giving out a lot of talk and he does give a lot of talk out but at the end of the day he’s the one saying that he wanted the fight and he’s made the Usyk fight. He always said – not point any fingers – but Tyson said ‘I want the AJ fight but AJ don’t want it’, and now when you see the Wilder fight falling through, I’m not saying Tyson was right and AJ was wrong but you got to say Tyson might have been right in the first place with what he’s saying because he’s signed up for the biggest fight.
We’d pay all day long to watch AJ v Wilder so I’m a little bit devastated that it seems to have stalled again.
MT: AJ v Wilder prediction?
RH: it’s the heavyweight division so whoever lands. You’d have to turn around and say who lands first. Technically Wilder is hopeless you wouldn’t teach a novice kid to throw a right hand like he throws it, it’s all over the show. But when it goes straight down the pipe, it’s murderous, horrendous, he’s one of the biggest punchers in heavyweight history. The only reason he couldn’t keep Tyson down was because Tyson could see his backhand coming and technically he’s all over the shop and with Tyson’s upper body movement, his ability to switch and pull, that’s why when he did get in he wasn’t able to get the next one in.
But with AJ, he’s more in front of you and maybe you’d have to say Wilder has a better chance of getting it in against AJ than Fury but when you see how bad technically Wilder is and how good technically AJ is, there’s every chance AJ can get it in first.
MT: Conor Benn-Eubank – is it morally good for boxing?
RH: At the end of the day, everything will be forgotten about. The fight fans will want to see the fight because of the history, and the recent history, because it adds a bit more juice and flavour to the occasion. I don’t think there is a bigger fight in boxing than this because of circumstances. It’s a great, great fight.
The fact that Chris Eubank Jr has come back from his win against Liam Smith – I thought maybe they would have had a third fight just to because it’s 1-1 which would be fair because you’d say ‘listen I’ve won one fight, you’ve won one fight’.
But if it’s a fight against Conor Benn or Gennadiy Golovkin, you’ve got to go for the paydays in boxing.
MT: Do you have prediction for the fight?
I don’t think any of us expected the last performance (by Eubank Jr) and the fact there is a size difference. But I’ve seen Conor Benn very vicious, very explosive just like his dad was but his dad (Nigel Benn) is my hero and I hope his dad won’t mind me saying that Conor seems to have a bit more behind his ears than Nigel. There’s a little more caution, a little more thinking about his attacks and at the end of the day, whether he’s got the same heart and chin as his dad remains to be seen as he hasn’t had to prove that yet.
If he does have the same heart, and the same determination and drive as his dad then I think Benn Jr seems to have a little more savvy and patience and controlled aggression about him so it makes it very exciting. You have to say after Eubank’s last performance against Smith, he has to be a slight favourite but I fancy Conor to win.
MT: How big is Leigh Wood vs Josh Warrington?
RH: I’m gutted I can’t be there because I’m very good friends with Josh Warrington and pretty close with Leigh Wood, I’ve got a lot of time for Leigh. I can’t see it being anything other than an absolute war. Leeds vs Nottingham, I hope they behave themselves the fans because they are representing their fighters so behave yourselves and enjoy the scrap.
Boxing is getting a lot of stick at the minute with this fight not happening, they’re not fighting and you’ve got YouTubers but this is a real fighters fight. Boxing needs fights like this to maintain it. Fair play to the YouTubers go for it. People ask me if they are affecting boxing, no, boxing is affecting boxing not YouTubers or MMA fighters. It’s because boxing are not making fights like this.
MT: Do you see similarities in both fighters to yourself?
RH: I can relate to Josh a lot. He’s a very proud Leeds fan, proud of his town and the fans come and support him. The same could be said for Leigh Wood. Both are very similar. Josh is a character, down to earth and Leigh Wood is the same, he’s proud of Nottingham. For him to be fighting where he is fighting against someone from Leeds is a very proud thing for him in front of his fans. It’s a great fight. It’s very hard sometimes when you see two lads who you consider mates and it will be hard to watch it on the box and see each other hit lumps out of each other because it’s a potential fight of the year. I wish both all the best.
MT: What’s your prediction?
RH: It’s a 50/50. Josh has the experience and is battle hard but if you’re going to nitpick, you’d probably say Leigh Wood is more on a crest of a waive type thing where Josh has won one in his last four – that’s the only way you can pick them to be honest with you. Maybe Leigh has a bit of better recent form but there isn’t much in it. Josh has been dying to take those Leeds fans over America and if anyone deserves to that it’s Josh Warrington because those fans have been brilliant like my fans were brilliant to me. This might be the last chance; he needs to win this fight for him to happen. Bearing in mind Josh has wanted to take his fans over to America for so long it makes him a very hard man to beat on Saturday night. But you look at the Conlan fight with Leigh Wood, he isn’t going anywhere fast, talk about a proper Rocky story fight that was in how he came back. Two down to earth lads, great styles, massive fights ahead for them both and I think it’s a real 50/50. It may come down to who wants it most and if you’re going to ask me who wants it most? Looking at how Josh wears his heart on his sleeve and Leigh Wood also, I could not pick a winner!
MT: Would you fight Mayweather in a rematch?
RH: I’d think about it. If an exhibition chance doesn’t come forward and that is my last fight (against Barrera) then fair enough I’ve enjoyed it. It’s served its purpose and got me back to my fighting weight and I can’t put it back on now I’m 44 – never going to get the weight off at 44 but if another exhibition comes along then I’ll always look at it because of how good it did for me and how good it did for others to see me where I have come from to get into shape the way I did and do what I did after the bad times I have come through. It’s inspired a lot of people so I’d be a fool not to look at it.
MT: Would you swap a win against Mayweather for City’s UCL win?
RH: that’s a tough one. I’d probably have to go for my win against Floyd because he’s going to go down arguably as the greatest of all-time. So I had a victory over the greatest of all-time then that goes without saying, it’s not just about getting a big payday but is about having a good win. I’d probably have to for that but the Champions League would be a very close second after watching some of the s*** I have watched over the years with Man City. To watch us win the treble and in the manner of the way we did, never in my lifetime. But I’d have to go for a win over Floyd.
MT: Who would you have a dream fight against?
RH: Cristiano Ronaldo. He used to play for Man Utd, United fans love him he’s good looking so why would you not want to give him a slap? I’d have to catch him first but he was certainly some player wasn’t he. I hope I don’t have to do as many step overs on that ice like he does!
Roberto Duran was my favourite of all-time. It’d have been interesting to have been in the ring with him and find out how good he was. It’d have been a very painful night in the ring but I think Cristiano Ronaldo or Roberto Duran would be my two dream matches at the City of Manchester.
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