Sport on TV: Hatton does like to go on – let's hope it's more Ricky than Rocky
Sunday 26 October 2008
You don't have to be mad to watch Nuts TV but it probably helps, and it doesn't matter if you have been involved in a few fights that have left your motor neurones a little scrambled. 'Ricky Speaks' (Nuts TV, Tuesday) is Ricky Hatton's chat show vehicle as the verbose boxer heads towards retirement. This week he swapped the Manchester Press Club for a swimming pool in Las Vegas, but there was such a lengthy delay on the satellite link that each question was followed by a long silence, as if the Hitman had been struck dumb.
He is in Vegas training for what may be his last fight, against Paulie Malignaggi on 22 November. It was a deeply unsettling experience waiting for the great mouth to open, for Hatton's verbal jousts are normally as frenetic as a flurry of punches. It was like Des Lynam coming over all serious on 'Sports Mastermind' or Geoff Boycott saying he's wrong (actually, that's ridiculous, it could never happen).
In the end, what you got was half a programme. The other half was dead air, while you waited to find out what would come out of the unpredictable and often wildly amusing Hatton mouth. But by the time he had been roused from his bizarre, Buddha-like state of meditation, everyone would be talking over the top of each other because they just couldn't get the timing right. It was like an all-in brawl rather than a sweet science.
But you never know with boxers if it's a technological glitch or a psychological one. When Hatton spoke to his poolside guest Wayne "Pocket Rocket" McCullough about a possible comeback, there was even a delay at that end.
When asked what keeps him motivated, Hatton replied: "Everyone knows I love a pint and a chicken bhuna." But that's no reason to keep getting your ears boxed. He is a genuinely funny man and, having just turned 30, a media career beckons. In another life he would have been a natural stand-up comic, or a Peter Kay-like club impresario presiding over talent contests.
But his talent surely lies in witty ripostes rather than searching questions, because his larger-than-life (or in "Fatty" Hatton's case, lager-than-life) personality would overwhelm most of his guests. It would take a character of the calibre of Muhammad Ali to give him the necessary dose of humility. After all, Ali even managed to keep Michael Parkinson's Boycott-esque Barnsley ego quiet.
The Olympic gold medallist James "Chunky" DeGale was in the studio and patently hankered after the razzmatazz of the desert city. "Vegas is me," he said as he weighed up the bank balance of turning pro. He boasted, "I've put on a stone and a half since Beijing," to which Hatton's answer was, "You really are an amateur".
That brought DeGale down to earth with a bump. Hatton will always be more Johnny Vegas than Las Vegas.
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