No fighter since Frank Bruno has captured the hearts of the nation like Ricky Hatton. The lad from Stockport has the same everyman quality Bruno had and the same quick wit. People identify with Ricky Hatton, he's a normal bloke who drinks pints and eats fast food when he is not in training. The difference is he is also one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of his generation.
A ferocious force in the ring, Hatton has always been an attacking boxer, working best on the front foot. His lethal weapon is his body punching. Since turning pro at the age of 19, opposition fighters crumpling to the canvas on the wrong end of a Hatton left hook to the ribs has been a common sight. After 40 fights unbeaten it was against Kostya Tszyu that Hatton's career really took off and he was propelled into the big time.
Tszyu had been a junior welterweight champion for ten years and was regarded by many as one of the best in any weight division. Hatton was still an up-and-coming fighter and a big underdog for the fight. The bout was on Hatton's home turf, at the Manchester Evening News Arena and he fed off his fanatical support to give one of the performances of his career. Hatton's aggressive approach eventually took its toll on Tszyu and the Australian remained in his corner at the bell for the 12th.
In the same year Hatton beat Carlos Maussa to win the WBA junior welterweight title and his exploits earned him the prestigious Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year award. Hatton was now in the exulted company of former winners like Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.
But he was still keen to test himself and hovered between welterweight and light welterweight to beat Luis Callazo, Juan Arango and famously Jose Luis Castillo. The Mexican, who had never before been counted out, was defeated with a shuddering left to the kidneys in the fourth round, a truly remarkable punch.
Defeats to Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao were the first of Hatton's career and have been hard to deal with for the Hitman after the unparalleled success of his early career. But in those fighters he was taking on two of the modern greats. Hatton rocked Mayweather in the first round of their bout in Las Vegas in front of a huge travelling support.
But eventually the master technician wore the Englishman down and stopped him in the tenth round. Against Pacquiao, Hatton faced a legend at the top of his game. With problems in the Hatton camp just hours before the fight he was not in the best shape to face the Pac-Man and lost early in the fight.
Whatever the future holds for the Hitman he should have plenty of options outside the ring if he decides to quit boxing. Already an accomplished after-dinner speaker, he has the sharpness of a stand-up comedian and will always have a place in the hearts of the Great British public.
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