Boxing: Hatton takes first step as a promoter

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The Independent Online

Ricky Hatton returns to the ring tonight as a promoter when he puts on his first televised show featuring his former sparring partner and friend Matt Macklin in a vacant European middleweight title fight in Manchester.

Hatton has still not made up his mind about his future as a fighter and he has been outspoken about the thrill he will get if and when Macklin wins the title. However, nobody in the boxing business believes being a promoter will satisfy Hatton over the next 12 months.

"Right now, it is all about getting this side of the business right," Hatton said. "I'm not thinking about what I'm going to do right now, I'm thinking about Matt and the rest of my fighters.

"I will have to make some hard, hard decisions, but certainly not right now," he added.

Macklin starts at the Velodrome in Manchester as a slight underdog against Finland's Amin Asikainen in a risky fight that he accepted knowing he would be forced to relinquish his British middleweight title. However, with 1,000 fans travelling from Macklin's home city of Birmingham for the fight, it could be close.

"Boxing should be about taking risks," Macklin said. "I had an easier fight lined up, but this fight leads to a high world ranking and that leads to a world title fight."

Hatton has been working closely with his father Ray and their lawyer Gareth Williams to put together a quality camp of fighters in an attempt to become the British version of Oscar de la Hoya's promotional company, Golden Boy. They offered Macklin enough money to withdraw from a planned British title defence against Darren Barker, which led to him being stripped of his national belt, in a move that sent a clear warning of intent to Britain's other promoters.