TO some Australian boxing fans, Ricky Hatton or ‘The Hitman’ as he was infamously dubbed, is the man who ended the career of Hall of Famer and all-time great Kostya Tszyu many years ago.
But to others, he is seen as the man responsible for leading some of our countries finest pugilistic talent to uncharted territories.
“Every time I’ve been here whether its while I’ve been on holiday or from the boxing point of view, Australians have always treated me fantastic,” said Hatton in an exclusive interview with Aus-Boxing.
“I’m a little bit surprised really after beating their hero Kostya Tszyu a few years back, but really you have really knowledgeable fight fans.”
“With Kostya Tszyu, it wasn’t just the fact that I beat him, but the sportsmanship we both showed and in a way many Australians warmed to me and I’m really happy to have a relationship with Australian boxing. With the lads that I’m promoting, hopefully it will go from strength to strength.”
In a short time, Hatton, 35, and his company Hatton Promotions have made waves across Australia.
First Hatton signed an unbeaten but relatively unproven heavyweight in Lucas Browne, shortly before adding promising indigenous Olympians Damien Hooper and Cameron Hammond to the books – turning them professional – fresh off their impressive performances at the Olympics.
Since then, Lucas Browne has built a respected resume in addition to becoming the first Australian heavyweight in over a decade to lift the Commonwealth title, an accolade he earned in Sheffield earlier this year on a Hatton Promotions card in Sheffield.
But if you ask Hatton himself, he isn’t eager to rest on his laurels as his company prepares to start another promising chapter for the Australian arm of his fledgling promotional firm.
“Being here promoting Damien Hooper, Cameron Hammond and Lucas Browne, you know, I’ve always had a good relationship with Australian boxing.” Hatton explained. “A lot of my work is done through Philippe Fondu who is my international matchmaker, he’s been in the game a number of years. He has contacts all over the world and obviously some of his contacts are here in Australia.”
Hatton speaks of his achievements with Browne with pride and rightly so. In Browne, Hatton and his team signed a heavyweight that was unproven beyond domestic level but with time have moulded the big-punching Browne into a respected and world-rated heavyweight.
“To be honest with you, the guys that we are promoting in Australia all started with Lucas Browne,” he said.
“Lucas is now ranked eighth now in the WBC and also top ten in the IBF and he’s also the first Australian heavyweight to be Commonwealth champion in a hundred years. His record is phenomenal. I think the job that we did with Lucas opened up the doors to sign up the two Olympic boys.”
“When you punch like Lucas Browne I think it goes without saying he has a chance against anyone. When you look at the heavyweight division there’s some goodens out there. I think Wilder is obviously a gooden.”
“From my point of view we’ve had Lucas fighting in the UK a few times cause obviously the heavyweight division in the UK is as strong as it has been in a number of years now. Tyson Fury, David Chisora, David Price,” Hatton explained. “I know he has a lot of fight fans in England love Lucas, due to him fighting there and the fact that there is a real possibility that he could be fighting one of the English boys.”
“What you get with Lucas and he would probably the first one to admit that he’s not the most gifted or talented but with punching power like that he has got a chance against anyone.” Hatton continued. “But nobody really stands out that much where you think “Lucas should be worrying about him or should be scared of him”, so I think Lucas has a great chance to make a big splash.”
Speaking to Hatton, you get a sense that he feels he is genuinely working towards a greater cause. Despite his wealth and status in the UK, he has invested in Australian boxing.
Unlike past instances in England, where fighters have signed with Hatton from relative obscurity – before fleeting at the first sign of success – the appreciation appears to go both ways between his fighters and of course, Hatton himself.
“Not only have I come out and started promoting in Australia but I have started promoting some of Australia’s best prospects to come through. It makes me very, very proud.”
“We signed Damien Hooper who I am very, very excited about. He has the potential to go down as an all-time Australian boxing great. He has a long way yet – it’s still early days – but that’s how highly I think of him of what I have seen so far.”
“Cameron Hammond, who is the other lad we signed, has got where his got in such a short space of time. He has got to the ten round level in very, very quick timing.” said Hatton of Hammond. “He’s had several people pull out against him – which is frustrating.”
Make no mistake, Hatton’s admiration for Australian boxing is deeply seeded. When asked on his opinion of Australian fighters outside of his stable, Hatton appeared knowledgeable as he offered his opinion on who he believes is one of Australia’s best prospects – none other than Jeff Horn.
Funnily enough, Hatton sees a lot of himself in the Brisbane-based live wire, who can now list Hatton amongst a handful of admirers in a short professional career.
“I’ve seen Jeff Horn a few times, he has huge ambition in the sense that he fought Naoufel Ben Rabah in only so many fights.” said Hatton. “That is one thing that I will say about me, I wasn’t the most talented in the world but I was fearless and I would take on the world. Nobody wanted me to take on Kostya Tszyu but I did. I think Horn has the same qualities to be honest with you.”
“I think he is a man in a hurry. He has got an exciting style. So outside the guys I do promote he is also an exciting prospect as well.”
If Hatton can continue his successful streak of scouting with Australian boxing, it won’t be long before he adds another name to his impressive but still growing roster.
It may be early days, but Australian boxing should get to know Ricky Hatton, cause it looks as if he’s here to stay.
Photo: Manchester Evening News