Hatton. It’s a name that has become synonymous with British boxing. And rightly so. You’ll struggle to name a fighter who has had more of an impact both in the ring, as well as out of it as Ricky Hatton. Those who were there still talk about those legendary Manchester fight nights and the famous trips to Vegas.
Since his retirement, Ricky has remained in the public consciousness, training world champions as well as securing his spot as one of boxing’s most popular figures. Now he’ll step out of the spotlight and surrender the stage to the new chip off the Hatton block.
Ricky’s son, Campbell, has the chance to add his own chapters to the Hatton legacy. Starting on the March 27, Hatton will enter the ring in Gibraltar, amidst a huge mist of nostalgia, and embark on the beginning of what he hopes will be his own storied career.
Hatton. It’s all in the name. And, as Campbell told Boxing Social, the opportunity can’t come at a better time. “This is it. I can’t wait. I’ve been in camp since January 1 and I’m ready,” said the younger Hatton. “With the delay, I do think the timing is perfect, as I’ve done over 100 rounds of sparring and I’m flying.
“Obviously, it was originally announced for March 6, but then the news came that it was going to be March 27 in Gibraltar. I was a bit disappointed at first, as we were so close to the original date, but after hearing about it and what they have planned, I’m excited. There aren’t going to be any fans, but it’s a fight abroad, so it’s all very important experience.
“I know there’s some opponents in mind but it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll take each fight as it comes, take my time and make the right step up at the right time. Me, my trainer and my dad know that isn’t just a preparation for a single fight, it’s preparation for the next few years of my career. When you’ve got a four-round fight to prepare for, there’s nothing specific to tailor for, it’s a case of staying sharp. You don’t have to peak at the right time like you do for championship fights, so the delay won’t affect me. I’m just ready to go.”
The trainer is always an important factor for a young fighter. When Campbell announced he would be going pro, the obvious assumption would be that Ricky would be the man leading him in the corner. Who better to have than a man who has been in almost every conceivable situation in a ring himself?
Instead, they went a different way although it still remains a family affair. Ricky will manage his son, whilst his brother Matthew will be the man handing out the instructions between rounds. Not many young fighters are fortunate enough to be able to lean on the experience that Campbell will have.
Matthew has been there and done it himself. He is sometimes a forgotten man, due to Ricky’s standing in the game, but within boxing he commands plenty of respect in his own right. A former European champion and world title challenger, Campbell will have no doubt that he is in very safe hands.
“Matthew was a top fighter who got to the very top. Now he’s a great trainer and it’s so good to have both him and my dad guiding me. What they don’t know about fighting isn’t worth knowing and, when I’m not in a specific camp or don’t have a date, I’ll get the best of both worlds because I’ll also work with my dad,” said Campbell.
“My dad was in my corner in the amateurs for some fights and he’s an amazing coach, but with his schedule and everything that he’s involved in, it was a natural decision to go with Matthew. There’s also that added drama of emotions between fathers and sons, although there has never been any sort of clash, but with it all in place how it is, I’m very confident going forward.”
We all have memories of Ricky Hatton fights. And it’s safe to say that the memories will once again awaken when Campbell steps in the ring. Unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old, who will be looking to campaign in the lightweight division, assures us that his own style will be as expected.
It was a style that was certainly not destined to serve him well in the amateur code, although he insists that he still earned a good apprenticeship. There were very few easy fights and it’s a trend that Campbell expects to continue now he has turned over to the professional game. Add in the name, Hatton. We all know it and the pressure that will come with its association, but Campbell remains totally unfazed.
He told Boxing Social: “I did well in the amateurs and won 22 out of my 30 odd fights. There were a couple of national novice titles and North West titles in there, so I boxed at a good level. From about my 15th fight, it was hard to match me, so every fight was against England internationals or guys who were fighting to very high standards.
“There’s no such thing as a journeyman in the amateurs. Everyone is coming to win and you take so much more from winning a hard fight, than blasting someone out quickly. I always had a pro style though. It’s very similar to my dad, which didn’t do me any favours. I was getting to my opponents regularly but over that short format, it’s hard. Another round and I would have got them. That’s a major difference. In the amateurs, you can stay away for three rounds, but in the pros over a long distance, it’s very hard to do that.
“Many judges prefer that fencing style, whereas I’m aggressive and work the body a lot. There were a few instances where everyone believed I should have won but the judges went the other way, but that’s how it is. The name is what it is, there will always be expectation and pressure but I’m used to it.
“I like it in a way. I’ve got to be on my game at all times and I’ll have nowhere to hide if I have a bad night. I can’t afford to have bad performances. Every opponent will know the Hatton name and they will all be trying harder than they may do against other opponents because they want that scalp. It’s all down to me now. I’ve got it all set up outside the ring but that will be short-lived if I don’t perform in it. I can’t take this position for granted.”
There is no doubt that as soon as Campbell was announced as the latest signature of the Matchroom Boxing revolution, thoughts would immediately turn to a return to Manchester. Boxing fans will have to wait for that dose of nostalgia as we wait for normality to rear its head following the latest nationwide lockdown.
For Matchroom, they will be hoping that the Hatton business will boom again when the inevitable is confirmed and the first Manchester date is secure. Of course, the fans will have to be there, too. The aura of the ‘Hitman’ will always loom large at Manchester Arena (now AO Arena), but very soon it will be a ‘Hurricane’ whipping its way into the famous venue and Campbell will no doubt be well supported to the tune of a familiar song when he follows in the family footsteps.
He concluded: “It’s a shame we’re not in Manchester, as I did always picture my debut being at the [Manchester Arena] with all my friends and family there to see it. But I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing and getting some fights in before. I think it will serve me well. I know those nights are coming in the near future.
“For now though, it’s all about March 27 and getting this journey underway. I’m going to prove that I mean business and it’s all about activity now. I’ll be in the gym working hard and, whenever I get a date, I’ll be ready no questions asked, in great shape. No fat suit necessary!”
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing