Ricky Hatton never forgets the sting of critics who summed him up as merely a beer-drinking fat British brawler — insults that have helped inspire him to the verge of boxing glory.
The 30-year-old Englishman fights Philippine star Manny Pacquiao, regarded as boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighter, in a Saturday showdown for Hatton’s junior welterweight title that just might be the year’s best bout.
Excitement abounds over the prospect of two attacking punchers meeting with history on the line, Pacquiao trying to claim a record-tying sixth different world crown while Hatton hopes to silence critics once and for all.
“I am what I am. You like it or you lump it,” Hatton said. “I think people have always viewed me as a fat Brit ... who puts on loads of weight and drinks too much beer.”
“I deserve a little bit more credit than sometimes I get, but that’s just me feeling sorry for myself. I’ll put it all right. Everyone will be writing a different script after May 2,” he said.
Hatton, 45-1 with 32 knockouts, suffered his only loss when he moved up to welterweight to face Floyd Mayweather Jnr, being stopped in the 10th round in 2007 but battling back with two solid triumphs since.
“When I got beat by Floyd, everybody thought I would never be the same. They said old Ricky was past it,” Hatton said.
“What a story to come back and be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. My legacy is made. I might be remembered as a good fighter,” he said. “But that’s not how legends are made. I want to be the best.”
The “Hitman” from Manchester, a devoted Manchester City fan whose supporters often produce an atmosphere like an English Premiership soccer match, is an everyman hero for working people seeking a hero who is one of them.
“I’m exciting in the ring and I’ve got a good personality. That’s why fans love me,” Hatton said. “They see me as exciting in the ring and a good guy to boot. That’s how I’d like to be remembered.”
“People like that I’m down to earth. I’m no different than the man in the crowd or the man on the street,” he said.
“I’m never short to enjoy myself. If you don’t catch me at the bar you’ll catch me at the buffet. In years past I always put weight on between fights, but recently I’ve not as much. I’m balancing excitement and personal life,” Hatton said.
“I’ve just gotten engaged. I live with my fiancee. I’ve slowed myself down a little bit. I still have my little wild moments but you can’t have everything,” he said.
Hatton said he feels as confident and as relaxed as he ever has for the Pacquiao fight, his sixth in a US venue since making the jump from British venues in 2006.
“I’m 45-1. I’ve been a world champion in two weight divisions and all I seem to do is get knocked. But that’s my inspiration,” he said.
“I may be fat. I may be round. But guess who is going to be the best pound-for-pound?” Hatton said.