Ricky Hatton finally walked away from boxing yesterday with a tear in his eye, half of lager in his hand and a giant smile on his face when he officially announced that he would never fight again.
Hatton's last fight was in May 2009 and since that night in Las Vegas there have been several attempts to get him back in the ring, including a serious few weeks in the gym early last year, but with each passing day he has grown increasingly happy with his life – a life that did hit a dreadful low late last year when he was splashed on the front page of a tabloid.
"I genuinely believed that I would be back in the ring but when the alarm went off in the morning I couldn't get up and I couldn't pass a chippy," an emotional Hatton said. "Nobody liked training as much as me, I loved the buzz and I will miss every day; I also liked a beer; I'm a fighter of extremes."
"I have spent the last 12 months sulking and you know how low I have been. I have let myself down, that's over and now I'm happy and ready to get on with my life on my terms," added Hatton, who just last month was voted the top promoter by the European Boxing Union. He has also started to train fighters.
Hatton departs having won 45 of his 47 fights and after being part of 25 world-title bouts, including five quite amazing contests in Las Vegas when as many as 100,000 British fans are calculated to have travelled to see him.
"I'm not saying that I'm the best British boxer ever," continued Hatton. "But nobody had my support and following; my greatest achievement in boxing was my devoted fans. They liked me and I liked them." It was much more than that and I have never met a Hatton fan at any of his fights that had not met him. Trust me, it was personal.
Covering any Hatton fight in Las Vegas was a unique experience due to his fans, from their arrival at the airport in Britain or Ireland, through the long nights of endless singing and boozing in the perpetual casino twilight and all the way back home after a fight. His weigh-ins attracted over 10,000 supporters and they remained loyal even when he was knocked out. He was "Our Ricky".
In 1996 he won a bronze medal at the world junior championships in Cuba, the following year he turned professional with Frank Warren after winning the domestic amateur title. He won the British title in 2000, a lightly regarded World Boxing Union title in 2001 and then he had sell-out after sell-out at the MEN Arena in Manchester.
In 2005 Hatton fought the best light-welterweight in the world when he came out against Russia's Australian-based Kostya Tszyu at the MEN in the small hours of the morning in front of 20,000 people. It was his greatest fight and he won when Tszyu quit after 11 rounds.
"It's been a mad journey and I've loved every second of it," continued Hatton. "I'm happy and Jennifer [his partner] is expecting a lickle girl. Not bad, eh?" No, not bad.Reuse content