Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton is a British light-welterweight (around 140 pounds or 10 stone) boxing champion. As of November 2007 he has been unbeaten in 43 professional bouts, 31 of which he won by knock-out, with 0 lost or drawn. He is considered one of the greatest British fighters of all time, known for his close-in style of fighting and hard body punches.
Hatton was born on the 6th October 1978 in Stockport, Manchester. His parents, Carol and Ray, were carpet sellers and fitters. His mother still sells carpet but his father is now his manager. He also manages Matthew, Ricky’s brother, a welterweight who trains at the same gym.
Hatton’s father and grandfather both played for Manchester City Football Club and he could have chosen to follow, after trials with the club’s youth team. However, after trying the sport at the age of 10, he found that he enjoyed boxing far more than football. When he was 14, two of his uncles took him to Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium to watch Nigel Benn’s second fight with Chris Eubank, in front of an audience of 40,000. He has since cited this as one of his great inspirations, saying that he never expected to enjoy the same crowds at his own fights.
When Hatton left school he went into the family carpet business. He began as a fitter but badly cut three of his fingers one day, after which his father decided to make him a salesman to keep his hands safe. Ray has said that he was terrible at this too, often making no profit as he tended to sell the carpet at cost price!
Hatton trains at the Betta Bodies gym in Denton, Manchester. He has kept the same trainer, Billy “The Preacher” Graham, throughout his career.
Hatton’s first professional fight was on September 11, 1997, against the UK’s Colin McAuley, which he won by technical knock-out in the first round. In the following seven years, he had between three and eight fights a year, mainly in England but occasionally in the US and once in Germany.
Although Hatton’s record was unbeaten in this time, he was not considered an exceptional boxer because of the mediocre opposition he had faced. This changed overnight on June 5, 2005 when he beat the Russian-born Kostya Tszyu. Tszyu was regarded as one of the best boxers in the world of his weight and few people seriously expected Hatton to win. Although the Russian was the favourite and made a good start, Hatton turned the tide in the later rounds, flooring him with a low body punch in the 9th. Tszyu did not answer the bell for the final round and Hatton won the IBF Light Welterweight title as a result.
For his next serious fight, on 13 May 2006 in Boston, Massachusetts, Hatton went up to the welterweight division to take on Luis Collazo in the hope of winning the WBA Welterweight crown. Hatton knocked his opponent on to the canvas within 15 seconds, but Collazo came back to give him one of the hardest-won victories of his career, punishing him with his south-paw style before ultimately losing on points.
Return to Light Welterweight
Hatton dropped a few pounds back to light welterweight for his next two fights, against the IBF Light Welterweight Champion Juan Urango on January 20, 2007 and then José Luis Castillo six months later. This latter fight was crucial, as Castillo has been one of few fighters ever to have troubled Floyd Mayweather, Jr, an undefeated welterweight. Beating Castillo – which Hatton achieved by knock-out – opened the way for a showdown with Mayweather himself. Mayweather had previously been intending to retire after his bout with Oscar de la Hoya in May 2007.
Hatton’s welterweight fight with Mayweather, scheduled for December 8, 2007 in Las Vegas, will be the defining event of his career. Mayweather has remained unbeaten in 38 fights and has fought across five weight divisions, gaining six world champion titles in the process. Because both boxers have an unblemished record, the fixture has received enormous press as it will decide who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Hatton and Mayweather’s lifestyles and mode of engagement with the media are very different. Hatton lives an understated life in Manchester without the trappings of celebrity that might be expected for someone as successful as him. Mayweather, on the other hand, travels with a large entourage and is well-known for his brash showiness. They have frequently traded insults since the fight date was set, with Mayweather criticising Hatton’s diet and fitness and Hatton criticising Mayweather’s publicity act and perceived insecurity. Of the two, Hatton refuses to rise to the bait. As he told The Times, ‘I get in the ring with a Ricky Fatton T-shirt and have a picture of me with Bernard Manning in our underpants on the wall.’
Sadly for Hatton, things didn’t go his way as he was sent to the canvas twice by the powerful Mayweather. Referee Joe Cortez stopped the fight in the 10th round with Hatton well behind on the cards. He had previously had a point deducted in the 6th for clubbing around the back of the neck. Mayweather once again proved his class, but Hatton came away having given the best pound-for-pound boxer in the World a real fight.
Hatton lives in Manchester, where he was born and has remained all his life. With his ex-girlfriend Claire, he has one son named Campbell, who was born before his rise to fame. Although Campbell lives with his mother, Hatton sees him every day and has set up a trust fund to ensure that he will be well looked after.
Hatton’s fans (and critics, including Floyd Mayweather) sometimes call him Ricky Fatton. In between periods of peak fitness for his fights, he often gains significant amounts of weight and occasionally reaches 180 pounds – almost three stone or 40 pounds above his fight weight. He enjoys drinking at his local pub, the Butty Box, and is a member of the darts team.
Hatton, whose father and grandfather both played football for Manchester City and who once had trials himself, is a keen supporter of the club. He is good friends with Wayne Rooney.
He received an MBE for services to sport in the 2007 New Year’s Honours List.