It’s been a hard few months for IBF Jr welterweight king Ricky Hatton. After winning the belt from all-time great Kostya Tszyu, there was a split with promoter Frank Warren that turned sour. Warren threatened to have the upcoming unification fight with WBA champ Carlos Maussa cancelled, and there was a period of limbo for Ricky whilst he waited for things to be sorted out. With Warren’s threat of an injunction now taken back, Ricky is back to training hard in preparation for what will definitely be a toe-to-toe, all action tear up with brawling, mauling Maussa. Boxingtalk’s Matt Winsper caught up with Ricky to get his views on the fight, and on his plans for next year. Who is in his sights...Floyd Mayweather? Arturo Gatti? Miguel Cotto? Check out what Ricky had to say... MW: First of all Ricky, how is training going ahead of the Carlos Maussa fight?
RH: Couldn’t be better. I’m actually ahead of schedule with my fitness levels and I’m due to start sparring next week. As you know, I blow up a lot in weight between fights, so I’ve had 3 months to prepare and I feel great.MW: Haven’t the out-of-ring problems, with you’re leaving Sports Network, affected training?
RH: Not really. It had done when Frank first wanted the injunction against the fight, even though deep down I knew the fight would take place. It was more upsetting than anything else, with all the name calling going on against me and my Dad. There was no need for it, really. It was a business decision to move on, but it looks like Frank’s took it personal. Anyway, that’s behind me and it hasn’t stopped me getting ready for this fight.MW: What do you think of Maussa?
RH: He doesn’t look as good as he actually is. He’s very crude, keeps coming forwards and is very tough. There’s not much thought to what he does, but that makes him difficult to read. It’s hard to tell what he’s going to do next...in fact, I don’t think HE knows what he’s going to do next.MW: Did you see anything in his fight with Miguel Cotto or when he won the title from Vivian Harris that you have picked up on to use against him?
RH: Well, he throws wide, round, swinging shots, and I think it will be best to go through the middle and stay close to him. I’m at my best in close, so I think in that respect he’s made for me, but I know he’s tough and will take some heavy shots. Cotto couldn’t properly stop him. He outboxed him and was winning, but it was only cuts damage that stopped Maussa. Cotto’s best shots couldn’t shift him, so I’m expecting a hard night.MW: Are you gunning for a stoppage?
RH: At world title level you can’t really just expect to knock everyone out. You can’t go in there thinking you’re going to, because most of these guys are pretty tough. If a knockout’s there, I’ll take it, but otherwise, I just take it as it goes.MW: If you come through the Maussa fight without injury, what’s next? Taking care of your mandatories or another big fight?
RH: Well, in this game you’re obliged to fight your mandatory or you lose your belt. I’d like to fight the big names, the Floyd Mayweather’s, the Miguel Cotto’s, but if I have to keep my belt against the number one contender first, that’s what I’ll have to do. After that, the light-welterweight division has got lots of fighters to fight. You’ve got Mayweather, Cotto, Gatti, any of those would be big fights for me.MW: OK, I’ll give you a name, you tell me what you think of them and if the fight with you could happen.
RH: OK.MW: Miguel Cotto?
RH: Yeah, there’s a good chance that can happen. Obviously it would have to be with HBO, but that’s not a problem. Miguel Cotto is one of the best talents in world boxing and I’d love that fight. In his recent couple of fights he hasn’t looked as sparkling, and he’s certainly not invincible, but it’s a good 50/50 match.MW: Kostya Tszyu?
RH: A rematch is always a possibility. I believe he’ll be moving up to welterweight to fight Zab Judah, so perhaps I could go to welterweight to fight him if he wins that. The thing is, though, I’m just 27 years old, so I’m coming into prime. I could better my performance if I fought him again, whereas it would be more difficult for him to be any better.MW: Jose Luis Castillo?
RH: Well, it’s obviously difficult for him to make lightweight, so a fight at my weight would be a classic, a real toe-to-toe grueller! The thing with this fight is that I can box very well and change if I need to, but with Castillo what you see is what you get. There are different sides to me to use if I need to, but he can only fight the one way. It would be very exciting though.MW: Junior Witter?
RH: I would LOVE to fight him. There’s been so much crap thrown about, not just from him, but from the people who say I’ve ducked him. He’s been calling me out all this time, but in a way I’ve shown him up by winning the title from a legend like Tszyu, whilst he’s looked beatable in his last few fights. If he could capture a title belt, then he’d bring something to the table. Right now I’m on a level where I’m fighting guys like Kostya Tszyu and Carlos Maussa, but he’s got to get to that level first.MW: And the big one...Floyd Mayweather. Do you think he’ll stay at welterweight after his 147lb debut with Sharmba Mitchell?
RH: I don’t know. He’s not the biggest even at light-welter let alone up at welterweight, so it would make sense for him to stay at this weight with me for now.MW: Has he fought anyone with your strength and power yet?
RH: No, not with my strength and power. I don’t like to criticise someone like Floyd Mayweather, because he’s done so much. Y’know, he’s the pound-for-pound number one, so I don’t like to run him down because that’s not my style. He looked absolutely amazing when he beat Gatti, even though Gatti fought the wrong fight completely. I will just say that I really want the fight and I hope it happens. He says his style is a nightmare for me, but my style is a nightmare for him, too.MW: Do you anticipate a move up to welterweight? You mentioned following Tszyu up there if he beats Zab Judah.
RH: For the right fight I would, yeah, and it’s something I’ll probably think about doing later on, but right now I feel that I’m a natural light-welterweight and I’ve still got belts to win here. I’ve won the IBF, I’ve got the WBA next month, and then there’s Mayweather and Cotto to look at before I think about other weight divisions.MW: I’ve noticed that before your title win, you averaged four or five fights a year, but seem to be going about 6 months between fights now. Is that due to out-of-the-ring problems, or is it intentional?
RH: Well, I’m fighting world title fights now against tougher guys, so I’m having a longer build up between them. The Tszyu fight was tough, I’d imagine the Maussa fight will be very physical, and if I’m fighting the likes of Mayweather or whoever, then I’d prefer a good build up to get ready properly. Now I’m champion, I’d like to be having two or three fights a year instead of four or five. MW: Do you have a time scale on your career, or are you just taking it fight-by-fight?
RH: I’d say about three years before I retire, really. That’s if I get the fights I want, because you never know in boxing. I guess it’s down to how I feel. As long as I’m fighting well and hungry, then I’ll keep fighting. I’ll continue until it’s too hard to train, or until I lose the hunger to keep winning.MW: Any final words?
RH: Just that I’m really looking forward to getting back in the ring. It’s been a bit of a bad few months with all the stuff that’s gone on, and I’m just glad I can focus on getting back to fighting!MW: Ricky, thanks for your time!