Sport on TV: Panto season arrives early as Hatton squeezes into big pants

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The Independent Online

Ricky Hatton was ready to rumble last week, from a variety of orifices. The boxer was guest of honour on WWE Late Night Raw (Sky Sports 3, Thursday), his first time back in the ring since Manny Pacquiao laid him out like an undertaker in May. But Hatton looked more like his hero Bernard Manning than Manny.

Hatton is currently wrestling with his conscience about a possible return to the boxing ring, which on this evidence seems like a joke, if not a cause for anxiety. But 'twas ever thus, he has always piled on the pounds between fights with a rigorous diet of junk food and Guinness, then having to join Fat Club rather than Fight Club to slim down for the weigh-in.

Jokes are perhaps his greatest weapon – witness his fat-suited alter ego Ricky Fatton – and a second career as a stand-up comic might suit him better. At least he would be standing up for longer.

WWE had come to Sheffield, and there were phone boxes and post boxes dotted around the Arena to keep the boxer company. He introduced the show as master of ceremonies though he had to gag himself against launching into his usual, very blue repertoire of gags because wrestling fans in this country are, on average, about five years old. He just looked bemused rather than amused, and very drunk.

When it was time to get angry – though there isn't even a hint of real aggression in this fleshy pantomime – and take on Chavo Guerrero in a "mixed martial arts" bout, Hatton kept his shirt on in more ways than one.

Someone should have told him it's OK to have vast slabs of flab on display in a wrestling ring. He was painfully slow at executing the necessary choreographed manoeuvres and after a couple of minutes he brought proceedings to a mercifully swift close by giving Chavo a right hook that sent him flying through the ropes.

What the future holds for Hatton is unclear. Later in the week he was busy with his promotional work, in this instance his brother Matthew's so-called world-title fight on Friday Fight Night (Sky Sports 1), though the IBO belt does not weigh heavily in the estimation of aficionados.

His opponent Lovemore Ndou was scornful of Hatton Jnr and insistent that he only really wanted to take on his big brother. And Ricky himself admitted after the drawn fight: "I feel my feet start to tap a little bit." 'Strictly Come Tap-Dancing On Ice' it is, then.

So long as he doesn't follow the lead of his conqueror, Pacquiao, who appeared on ABC's 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' in the States last week belting out an excruciating rendition of the Seventies rock ballad 'Sometimes When We Touch'.

As he defended his WBO welterweight title against Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas last night, Pacquiao needed to remind himself to swing, rather than sing, for his dinner.