By Matthew Hurley: “It’s always better to win as the underdog.”
So says Ricky Hatton
as he winds down preparations for his May 2nd mega-fight with current pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao
. Hatton’s easy charm has been tested in the buildup to this fight as Pacquiao’s ascension to superstar status in the aftermath of his December destruction of Oscar De La Hoya
has reduced ‘The Hitman’ to the B-side of this number one record. But in that vein Hatton remains one helluva B-side – something akin to John Lennon’s “Revolution” on the flipside of Paul McCartney’s “Hey Jude”.
There have been moments in the face of the media where Ricky has been trying almost too hard to get the point across that all those who are predicting an easy Pacquiao victory have not been paying close enough attention and are in for a surprise. One thing he has reiterated time and again, and it is a valid point, is that Manny has been stopped before early in his career and he has been seriously buzzed by fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez
and Erik Morales
“People talk about his speed,” he said during an open media session, “but those fellas who shook him up still caught him.”
Hatton flashes a knowing smile when he says this. The fact is he is not only bigger and stronger than Marquez and Morales but he is equally fast, or faster, than those two lighter-weight fighters, and he hits significantly harder. So, he asks, what happens when I catch him? In Ricky’s estimation the thought is enough to make his mouth water nearly as much as it does when a bartender puts a perfectly poured pint of Guinness in front of him.
When the fight was finally signed after a rather contentious battle over purse parity Hatton was rebounding from his 2007 knockout loss to then pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. His subsequent bout against Juan Lazcano proved his enduring popularity when over 50,000 fans showed up to welcome him home at the City of Manchester Stadium in Lancashire. However, his performance was not only lacking but seemed to indicate that he had gone as high as he could and was now skidding down the backside of a very successful career. But Hatton maintains that he was ill both before and during the fight and the ongoing dissolution of his relationship with longtime trainer Billy Graham was one further distraction that muddied his focus.
So, enter the provocateur of self-love – trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. No matter how you judge his credentials as a trainer, he would seem a bad fit for such a playful personality as Ricky Hatton
. Not because he’s a bad trainer but because his ego is such that he demands primary focus on himself whether the cameras are rolling or not. Put simply, Floyd the Senior is awfully hard to take even in small doses.
But apparently Hatton’s quirky sense of humor has discombobulated Mayweather just enough that he has been willing to step back a bit and allow the gregarious Mancunian to dominate press conferences and media sessions. The so-called “greatest trainer ever” still seeks out the microphones but his bad poetry and endless slamming of Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach are like awkward, sometimes indecipherable rants compared to Hatton’s quick wit. And Hatton will often talk over his new trainer when a quip grips his mind. Perhaps that’s why their odd relationship seems to be working.