After almost 30 years in and around the murky politics of boxing, Ricky Hatton isn’t sure who to believe when it comes to the current crisis at heavyweight.
From the collapse of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk‘s undisputed mega-fight to Anthony Joshua rejecting yet another call-out from Fury last week, and to the endless social-media jibes that have dominated both sagas, Hatton is growing tired of the games in the sport’s blue-riband division.
‘I know Tyson wants to fight AJ and I know he wants to fight Usyk, that’s the top and bottom of it,’ he tells Mail Sport, via Gambling Zone. ‘But sometimes I don’t know if it’s the social-media world we live in and trying to use social media in order to make the big fights [that is preventing them from happening].
‘I can only speak not as Tyson’s friend – Tyson is my friend and I know he wants them fights and I certainly hope he gets them – but if we’re gonna be totally honest, certainly if you’re a neutral you’d be thinking, “same old stuff different day”.
‘I’m not saying that Tyson doesn’t mean what he says, but I think it’s gone past the stage where I don’t think anyone knows what to take seriously anymore – and that’s not just from Tyson. From Tyson, from Eddie [Hearn], from whoever.
Ricky Hatton admits he is growing tired of the ‘politics’ at heavyweight between the likes of Tyson Fury (left) and Anthony Joshua (right)
Speaking to Mail Sport, Hatton insisted good friend Tyson is desperate to fight the very best
‘I know Tyson wants the fight, but I don’t know what to believe just like the neutrals at the minute.’
Fury, who has held the WBC heavyweight title since dethroning Deontay Wilder back in February 2020, appeared set to meet three-belt champion Usyk in a fight to crown the first undisputed heavyweight king since 2000 earlier this year.
After Usyk accepted his questionable offer of a 70-30 financial split, however, the Brit incensed fans by calling for a rematch clause to be removed from the contract, before negotiations ultimately fell by the wayside.
It came just six months after Fury set Joshua a series of unfeasible deadlines to agree to an all-British encounter at the end of last year, with Dereck Chisora subsequently drafted in as an unsatisfactory back-up opponent when his domestic nemesis failed to meet them.
Yet despite his tough negotiating, Hatton is convinced that Fury would step into the ring with both Usyk and Joshua in a heartbeat – as would his two adversaries. ‘Nine times out of 10 the boxers want the fights,’ he continues.
‘I know AJ will want the fight and I know Tyson will want the fight, but sometimes politics get in the way.
‘There’s a reason somewhere why it’s not happening, and where it is I don’t know. But even I’ve reached the stage now where if Eddie says something or Frank [Warren] says something I take it with a pinch of salt.’
Fury’s proposed undisputed showdown with Oleksandr Usyk collapsed earlier this year
Hatton, one of Britain’s most successful fighters of the modern era, jetted across the Atlantic to compete with the very best at light-welterweight and welterweight in his own career; collecting world titles in both divisions while adding wins over the likes of Jose Luis Castillo, Luis Collazo and Paulie Malignaggi to his resumé.
The Manchester favourite brought an unprecedented army of British supporters with him to the US, particularly for his money-spinning encounter with Floyd Mayweather Jnr in 2007. Both men brought unbeaten records into that fight after a combined 81 outings, putting their 0s on the line under the bright lights of Las Vegas. In the end, it was Hatton who lost his when Mayweather floored him to the point of no return.
Yet is a fear of losing that 0 hampering some of boxing’s biggest fights from taking place today?
‘It’s always nice to have an unbeaten record,’ Hatton admits. ‘When I boxed Mayweather I was 43-0 and Floyd was 44-0 (Mayweather was 38-0 at the time) or something like that, so it sells. Two unbeaten fighters, that fight was called the undefeated, and it does look good having two unbeaten fighters fighting each other.
‘But what I’ve learnt with my experience is it doesn’t mean a great deal. There’s a friend of mine from Manchester, Anthony Crolla. I promoted him a few years ago, he lost a six-rounder, got stopped in a British title fight, but he kept at it and kept at it and ended up becoming champion of the world, fought [Vasyl] Lomachenko.
‘My brother Matthew, he lost a six-rounder, got disqualified in an eight-rounder and then won the European title, made five defences of the European title and then went the distance with Canelo Alvarez.
Hatton jetted across the Atlantic to fight some of the world’s very best fighters in his career
He was more than willing to put his unbeaten record on the line against Floyd Mayweather
Hatton says experience has taught him that remaining undefeated is not paramount to success
‘It’s a little bit of personal pride isn’t it, and ultimately if you do lose your 0 it’s gonna hurt your pride, but does it mean the end of your career? No, not at all. You can come back just as strong.’
While his own 0 was breached by Mayweather on that fateful night in Sin City, Ricky’s focus is now on helping another Hatton maintain his undefeated record for as long as possible.
In March 2021, the British fight icon’s son Campbell set off on his own boxing journey when he outpointed Spain’s Jesus Ruiz on his debut in Gibraltar. Since then he has navigated another 11 wins, five by knockout, although one of those victories was a highly-disputed points decision.
For Ricky, the sight of Campbell following in his footsteps remains surreal two years on from his professional bow. And there have already been plenty of stern words.
‘I never thought I’d see my son as a professional, 12 fights unbeaten. But he’s improving all the time,’ he insists. ‘He had a few banana skins early doors where the expectation was so big on him and I don’t think he coped with it very well. He’s never had a camera on his fights, he’s never had a microphone under his chin for an interview. But I think he’s got used to that now and shrugged it off.
‘He was still making a few mistakes and he’s had a telling-off from myself and my brother Matthew. We said “listen, we’re telling you to do this and you’re making the same mistakes over. We’ve been telling you that for the last three fights you.”
His son Campbell is now looking to follow on his footsteps after winning his first 12 fights
He admits it is still surreal to watch Campbell makes his own path two years on from his debut
‘And I think the penny has finally dropped. His last two performances previously were first-round knockouts, but I think his last fight was more gratifying for me because he was in there with a spoiler, he kept his shape, he didn’t get giddy, he kept patient and eventually got him.
‘That’s the way it’s got to be when you’re a novice pro, you don’t get it right all at once. He’s still got a long way to go but he’s coming into his own a lot more.’
Following Campbell’s latest win on the undercard of Leigh Wood’s world featherweight title win over Mauricio Lara on May 27, the Hattons are now headed for Istanbul. It is there where they are hoping to see their beloved Manchester City seal a historic Treble in this weekend’s Champions League final.
Two out of three trophies are already in the bag as City head into Saturday’s clash with Inter Milan as overwhelming favourites, but Ricky is refusing to get carried away too early.
‘City always make it hard for themselves,’ he laughs. ‘They never make it easy. I just hope for one season there’s not a twist in the tale.’