Former two division world champion Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton had one of the most acclaimed careers for a UK boxer. Now retired, Hatton has turned his focus to promoting and has seen one of his fighters rise up the ranks to become world champion. In my interview with Mr. Hatton, I get his thoughts on Lucas Browne winning a heavyweight title belt and get his views on the fight Browne had with Ruslan Chagaev. Additionally, Ricky shares his views on Amir Khan vs. Saul Alvarez and what his prediction is for that fight. Here is what Ricky Hatton had to say.
Robert Brown: Australia has its first heavyweight champion with Lucas Browne. How did you feel about the fight and the achievement of Lucas?
Ricky Hatton: Yeah it was a fantastic achievement for Lucas and a very proud moment for Hatton Promotions. Lucas has paid his dues, he’s come up the hard way. He’s come from nearly nowhere to win the heavyweight championship, which is an absolute credit to him.
Lucas has not been somebody who has come out of the Olympics and has had all the treatment and the grooming, he’s had had to come and do it the hard way. We got him the right fights at the right time and kept him really busy, and he’s kept his patience.
Robert Brown: Did you always believe that Lucas could box like that?
Ricky Hatton: Lucas is what he is, his best attribute is his frame and his punching power, but I always thought he had good footwork for a heavyweight and for such a big guys. But I think sometimes you don’t want to change the style of a fighter, you want to try to get the best out of him you can, and I think that’s what Rodney Williams and Nigel Benn have done in the gym.
Chagaev was a very good amateur, a very good seasoned pro, very nice boxer, and for Lucas to get the jab off like he did against a fighter such as Chagaev, it just shows you that you’re never going to use your jab if you’re not using it in the gym. I think everyone just thought of Lucas as a big come forward plodding type of heavyweight, but he’s shown people that he’s got another side to his game and I think it’s a credit to Rodney and Nigel Benn in that gym.
Robert Brown: What was going through your mind when Lucas got knocked down in the sixth round? Were you confident that he would be able to recover?
Ricky Hatton: Yeah you worry more when a heavyweight goes down because nine times out of ten they normally stay down, due to the weight that gets delivered behind the punch.
The last text I sent to Lucas I said, “It doesn’t matter how tough it gets, you gotta bite down on that gum shield and you got to move mountains.” When he went down, I think he thought, “Oh no this is a new level, this is different to me,” but he never lost faith.
When you got punching power like Lucas, you should never lose faith because you can always pull one of those shots out of the bag, and that’s what he did. You gotta go through the pain barrier, you have to go through these moments to win the world title, that’s what separates the average guys from the great fighters.
Robert Brown: How does helping someone get to the world title compare to you winning a world title yourself?
Ricky Hatton: It will never replace the moment when you win a world title, that’s absolutely unbelievable when you get your hand raised. Boxing is a very hard sport, but from a selfish point a view, you get all the praise, you don’t share it with eleven teammates.
When I first won my first world title, I went on to unifying the belts, I moved up in weight, went to Las Vegas. What I achieved in boxing is give me and my family such a wonderful life. It’s given me and my kids stuff I could never dream of, and the reason why I went into promoting and training in the first place is because I wanted to give a little bit back.
If I can help Lucas get to where he’s got to and give him the same shot at life that I and my family have been fortunate to get, then that’s what makes it worthwhile because I feel very blessed with everything I have every single day. The fact that I can help lads and people to achieve the same things, then I’ve done well I guess.
Robert Brown: There’s a fight between Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan coming up. What are your thoughts on that fight and do you give Khan a chance?
Ricky Hatton: He’s got a chance because he’s very fast on his feet and very fast on his hands. If there’s one thing that Canelo hasn’t got — even though he’s improved since the Mayweather fight massively — is the quickness of feet. He hits hard with both hands, he’s a good boxer, but his feet aren’t the quickest and that could be key.
Whether Amir keeps the speed of feet after going up through the weights remains to be seen, maybe he’s very fast at welterweight but do his feet move as fast when he moves up to middleweight? It will be interesting to see. It’s not an impossible job for Amir but he is up against it, and I think even Amir would say that.
Robert Brown: You would be favoring Canelo if you had to put money on it?
Ricky Hatton: No I won’t put any money on it, I hope Amir wins it and he has the capabilities of doing good, but I think he just needs to know that he has the tools to do it, but whether he has the same tools at middleweight as he did at welterweight, in speed of foot and speed of hand in order to keep that big man off. We’ll have to wait and see, let’s hope he can.