Inside Lines: Hitman wants another round

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The Independent Online

One look at the picture above is surely enough reason for stricken Ricky Hatton to turn it in. But his perverse pride means he is certain to fight on. The Hitman may have been hit once too often but he is determined to go out on his feet, not stretched out as he was when poleaxed by Manny Pacquiao. So expect him to make a valedictory appearance in Manchester this autumn. We hear he wants boxing's mastermind, Freddie Roach, the US trainer who plotted his frightening two-round demolition by the wondrously fast-hitting Filipino – a case of Manny hands make light work – to be in his corner. But even if they scour boxing's graveyards and dig up a convenient "body", the danger is that even a patsy could land a lucky punch against a worryingly vulnerable fighter who has finally paid the price for going more rounds in the pub than the ring. A talked-of match between Hatton and his Roach-trained pal Amir Khan might pack any arena but politically it would be hard to make and fistically it would be catastrophic for Hatton, now just a left hook away from serious long-term hurt. Let's remember him as a charismatic champion – not the Has Been Hitman. Somebody ring the bell.

'We'd have shared funding'

Sports overlord Andy Burnham came up with a bright idea last week in calling for football's rich-list clubs to share their European windfalls with other Premier League sides. Shame such altruism was not offered to Britain's Olympic sports, although cycling's executive director, Peter King, one of the star turns at a hard-hitting CCPR conference, reveals that most elite sports would happily have given five per cent of their funding from UK Sport to those eight whose financial support was brutally slashed, thus ensuring prospects like weightlifter Zoe Smith had better hope of reaching the 2012 podium. King says he understands why the eight worse-off sports feel they have been "chopped off at the knees". He adds: "There is no doubt they have been done a disservice. Some well-funded sports would not have minded taking a little less to help others who may well find some good athletes for 2012 but are unable to fund them."

Storm warning for DeGale

The Olympic middleweight champion James DeGale, who was booed on his pro debut, reckons he can fill Ricky Hatton's boots as boxing's great entertainer, though his promoter, Frank Warren, admits the lippy Londoner is "an acquired taste". Another barracking awaits DeGale in Belfast on Friday when he meets the unbeaten Czech Jindrich Kubin, for he is venturing into his old rival Darren Sutherland's back yard. DeGale, who beat Sutherland in Beijing, says: "I expect the crowd to be hostile but that's all part of the learning experience. One day I'll be hailed as a hero." Meanwhile, those wearing the vests DeGale and his fellow Olympians on the Belfast bill left behind underwent the first stage towards 2012, the ABA Championships, on Friday. Curiously, leading lights Bradley Saunders, Luke Campbell and Danny Price were absent, and Beijing flyweight Khalid Yafai's spot was taken by his younger brother Gamal, 18. His victory could make for an interesting family fight-off for a London berth.