By Geoff Poundes
Hatton has never looked comfortable in retirement, and has only recently swapped his desk for the job of hands-on trainer to a growing stable of young fighters, and it’s been hard not to notice that the once portly ex-champion has been looking much more svelte in recent weeks.
The rumour is that Hatton is seeking a re-run of his 2008 encounter with Paulie Malignaggi – the New Yorker who impressively ripped the WBA welterweight title from the overmatched homeboy Vyacheslav Senchenko back in April in the Ukraine.
Malignaggi, of course, has leapt upon the opportunity. He has experienced at first hand the vociferous support that Hatton is able to generate, particularly in the UK – Malignaggi boxed on a Hatton undercard at the City of Manchester Stadium immediately before their fight, when 50,000 baying British fans sung the “Hatton Wonderland” song to the skies. Malignaggi won’t have any difficulty taking his title abroad for that kind of payday, even if he insists his motivation is mostly about professional pride: “Every time you get a chance to avenge a defeat it’s always something you want to do. I am 3-0 in rematches in my career so I’d love nothing more than to go 4-0 and get revenge on Ricky Hatton. He has a good win over me, did a job on me, but I have made a lot of changes since then and have got a world title. I don’t think he would come back for something small, there would be no point coming back if it wasn’t big and I have that.”
At face value, Malignaggi is absolutely right. Hatton would generate a huge gate and massive interest were he to return, and a Malignaggi-Hatton reprise would tick a great many boxes promotionally, professionally and financially, for both fighters.
Hatton’s local paper, The Manchester Evening News, is backing the story and is known to be close to Ricky. The Hatton family remain tight-lipped for the moment, claiming that Ricky is currently on holiday (which usually involves a cruise ship and an awful lot of alcohol), and that “no statement” will be made until he returns. It is interesting, however, that they have not said that the rumours are utter nonsense.