Return of the Hitman! Six fights that shaped the career of comeback king Hatton
12:19 GMT, 14 September 2012
A new licence and a new hope – two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton announced his return to the boxing ring on Friday, ending weeks of speculation.
The 33-year-old has cleaned up his act, shed three stone in the gym and completed his medicals, with talk now turning to opponents for the November 24 fight at the Manchester Arena.
Sportsmail takes a look back at the six fights that made – and brought down – his career so far.
October 21, 2000: Fight number 22 vs Jon Thaxton
October 2000 and 22-year-old Hatton has been fighting as
a professional for three years without really being tested – all but four of his
21 victories having come by knockout.
But any illusions of boxing being a cakewalk are
destroyed by the tough-as-nails Thaxton, who opens a cut above Hatton’s left
eyebrow just 15 seconds into the fight.
The blood is gushing down Hatton’s face and his opponent
doles out the punishment, including a bruising right onto the forehead in round
Bloodbath: Hatton and Thaxton exchange blows in their 2000 British Light Welterweight fight at Wembley
But as we know, Hatton is made of tough stuff and by the
fifth he is scoring at will with short rights and combinations. Thaxton too is
cut and blood trickles down, impairing his vision.
It’s a gruesome spectacle and the slugfest goes the
distance with Hatton unable to finish his opponent off. The decision is
unanimous in Hatton’s favour and he collects the vacant British Boxing Board of Control Light Welterweight title.
You can watch the fight on YouTube here.
December 13, 2003: Fight number 34 vs Ben Tackie
A big milestone on the way to that bout with Tszyu came
late in 2003, when Hatton comprehensively outboxed a very skilled opponent in
the Ghanaian Ben Tackie.
As expected, Hatton had to work hard to retain his WBU
Light Welterweight title on home turf at the MEN Arena but showed speed and
power that had previously been hidden away.
Toughest test: Hatton was forced to work hard against Ben Tackie in their December 2003 bout
Tackie was on his knees in the opening round, only for
the referee to rule a slip, but Hatton continued to hammer away with some
As Hatton acknowledged afterwards, Tackie had the ‘toughest
head’ he had encountered in boxing, but his unanimous points win underlined his
potential to compete against world class fighters.
June 4, 2005: Fight number 39 vs Kostya Tszyu
The fight that made him and one of the most sensational
upsets in the history of boxing. Kostya Tszyu, a hero in his native Australia,
was arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and had been a
champion for more than ten years.
But the tables were turned in a highly-charged 2am fight
in front of 22,000 partisan fans at the Manchester Arena in the biggest fight
Britain had witnessed in years. Hatton emerged from his corner like a
whirlwind, winning the first two rounds, but Tszyu showed his class with some
It was tight and tetchy, with some questionable
decisions. In the closing stages of the seventh, Hatton was floored, only for
referee Dave Parris to decree an illegal low blow. In the ninth, both fighters
were again picked up for going below the belt.
Take that! Tszyu lands a big left on Hatton during their legendary June 2005 fight
The champ: Hatton has his arm lifted by referee Dave Parris after Tszyu failed to return for the final round
Mutual respect: Hatton shares a word with Tszyu after the fight
But by the closing rounds, the 35-year-old Tszyu was
visibly starting to tire and by the end of the eleventh Hatton had beaten his
face into a swollen mess. The local boy swarmed, connecting with a volley of
big rights and a crashing left to leave his opponent reeling.
Tszyu didn’t emerge for the final round and was dethroned
as champion in a result that rocked boxing. Both fighters were magnanimous
despite the questionable tactics used in the fight – ‘I have nothing to be
ashamed of – I lost to the better fighter,’ said Tszyu in addressing the crowd
Hatton paid his own tribute, saying: ‘If can be half the
champion Tszyu is, I’ll be doing very well.’ Little did we know then that this
night was probably the peak in his career.
June 23, 2007: Fight number 43 vs Jose Luis Castillo
This fight is all about one moment – from nowhere in the
fourth round, Hatton unleashed a blow so perfectly timed and placed into the
liver that Castillo recoiled, spun 360 degrees and crumpled on to one knee,
unable to stand up again.
And thus ended this high-profile Vegas 'megafight' between
two champions which never really got going as a contest (Hatton had taken the
first three rounds). It was the first time Castillo had been counted out in his
career, brought down with just one ferocious punch.
December 8, 2007: Fight number 44 vs Floyd Mayweather Jr
All these moments led to this – the fight billed as ‘Undefeated’
in Vegas between reigning WBC and The Ring Welterweight champion Floyd
Mayweather Jr and The Ring light welterweight champ Hatton.
The bout had been billed as a Britain versus America
clash and was watched ringside by a stellar cast of celebrities including David
Beckham, Angelina Jolie, Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, as well as thousands of noisy
Hatton fans who had invaded the city.
Despite making a jump in weight, Hatton kept pace with
Mayweather well in the first few rounds, even knocking him off balance with a
left jab. The American looked uncomfortable and was unable to exert any
meaningful pressure or capitalise on a cut Hatton had sustained above his right
The cheek! Hatton shakes his backside at Mayweather after being deducted a point in the sixth round
End game: Mayweather connects with a devastating punch to win the fight in the tenth
Floored: Hatton can't get back on his feet after hitting the canvas for a second time
The fight turned on a decision in the six to deduct Hatton
a point for aiming punches at the back of Mayweather’s head. The call affected
Hatton more than it ever should and suddenly he was chasing a dancing
Mayweather around the ring, growing more and more frustrated and angry.
The chase told in the tenth, when Mayweather rocked
Hatton with a left hook, sending him sprawling to the canvas. He continued, but
was badly hurt, and a few seconds later he staggered backwards and down once
again to finish the fight.
Mayweather said afterwards: ‘Ricky Hatton is one tough
fighter. He is still a champion in my eyes and I’d love to see him fight again.
He is probably one of the toughest competitors I’ve faced. I hit him with some
big ones but he kept coming and I can see why they call him the ‘Hitman.’
Video of the final round set to music
May 2, 2009: Fight number 47 vs Manny Pacquiao
18 months on from Mayweather defeat, and following fightback
wins over Juan Lazcano and Paulie Malignaggi, Hatton secures another grandstand
bout against Manny Pacquiao, who had seen off Oscar De La Hoya.
The Vegas spectacle was billed as ‘The War of the Worlds’
and whipped into a frenzy by promotion in both camps. There was an almost
cordial atmosphere to the build-up, with none of the trash talking that had
been seen before Hatton-Mayweather.
In fact, the most memorable soundbite was when Hatton
claimed: ‘This fat, beer-drinking Englishman is going to shock the world again.’
Sweet connection: Pacquiao lands a solid right on Hatton's nose in the second round
Motionless: Hatton lies still on the canvass after being knocked out by Pacquiao
Unfortunately, Pacquiao did his talking in the ring, in
front of a predominantly English MGM crowd. Hatton was down twice in the first
round – from a powerful right hook and then a combination late in the round.
Hatton looked helpless against the Filipino’s armoury of
punches and a left hand settled matters with a second left in the second round.
As Hatton lay prone on the canvass, it was painfully obvious that he had come
to the end of the road – or so we thought until this week.
Pacquiao underlined his dominance across a number of
weight divisions, but it was all too much for Hatton who later admitted
contemplating suicide after the defeat.
But now, over three years later and at the age of 33,
Hatton is to make a comeback.