By Gary Todd
Ricky Hatton (43-0 with 31 knockouts) faces Floyd May-weather the undisputed, unbeaten world welterweight champion Saturday 8 December, in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a highly anticipated match between two champions.
Walking up the stairs to the old dilapidated factory in Denton, the rain was falling, and the wind howling through the old council estate which is home to Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton’s gym. Upon entering, I got various nods from the muscle boundpunters, there perfecting their sweat drenched bodies. “Is Ricky in, I asked?” “He’s in the back.”
As I walked through, I could hardly get through the door, as there were so many people there. I had been to his gym before, while doing research for my book, and had trained with Micheal Gomez, and “The Hitman,” but that was then and this was now.
After finding my spot, rubbing shoulders a bit too close with the world’s media, and dodging camera lenses, I settled in to do what I came to do. Study Ricky Hatton.
The last time I saw Hatton in the flesh, he was in Vegas on holiday and to watch the Castillo VS Corrales fight and he was with a couple of his mates and Roberto Duran. Hatton was big, Duran was bigger, but you could tell “The Hitman” was having the time of his life [and it showed]. If you didn’t know them, you would be shocked to see him and Duran, bloated, and living the life of success. That same weekend in Vegas, I spent some time with Floyd May-weather, and his huge bodyguard, in a hotel room at the MGM Grand. Mayweather looked as if he was in holiday mode but he looked fantastic. Does he ever look any different?
Anyway, back to the gym. Hatton looked strong, stronger than he was for Tszyu, and that’s scary to imagine. I will never forget him weighing in for Kostya Tszyu. As soon as he got his kit off, I knew he would beat the Russian powerhouse.
Explosive shadow boxing, some seriously heavy attacking on the body belt, and the heavy bag, all the while Hatton barking like a dog, and working the legs, vaulting the bar, he had plenty of fire in him and he looked ready to go.
I spoke with trainer, Billy “The Preacher” Graham, and he told me his man was in the best condition he had seen him in. Everyone claims their fighter is, but with Graham, you believe him. After what I had seen, I agreed.
I asked him about Hatton’s sparring. Hatton’s agent, Paul Speak had e-mailed me and told me how things were going, and Graham confirmed to me that all aspects of his preparations were going great. “We got Saeed Harrak, Rock Allen, and Karl Dargan. We have been working with Manchester lad, John Murray, it’s been good.”
Murray is an up and coming tough young lightweight prospect, who will be fighting for major honors in the future, and will hopefully be matched to fight Amir Khan, hopefully in 2008. Philadelphian fighters, Dargan, and Allen have been brought in for speed, and timing, and power and aggression on the inside. Dargan is a light welterweight amateur gold medalist in this years “Pan American Games” in Rio, and he will be turning pro, later this year, and Rock Allen is an undefeated fighter. Just for the record, both fighters are related to Bernard Hopkins trainer, Nazim Richardson. Allen is his son, and Dargan is his nephew.
All work for the “Golden Boy”
After a few waves and a wink or two to the media, Hatton went through to join the muscle junkies on the benches. Hatton was noticeably stronger on the weights, particularly in the legs, and was overall explosive.
I had seen enough, and decided to go and wait in the café for Hatton, and also take stock of what I saw in him. After waiting around, a huge crowd made their way to the wooden stairs, and Hatton was behind. I gave him a shout, and he came over. He was in a hurry, and all I got to him was “Are you ready?” He shouted over with a menacing glint in his eyes, “I’m #&c*!ng ready.”
I let them all go, then walked to the closest motel I could find, thinking about the fight, living it in my minds eye, and confirming to myself about my first story I had written and my analysis of the fight. Nothing has changed. I’m still going for a TKO for Hatton in the 7th round.
Gary Todd is an international author with his book on world champions and he has been involved in all aspects in the sport of boxing for over 25 years. He is also a proud member of The Boxing Writers Association Of America.