By Terence Dooley
Rumors that Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton might be tempted to make a comeback have circulated in recent weeks despite the lack of an official announcement one way or another from the former light-welterweight world champion. Hatton, won also won the WBA belt up at welterweight, lost his last fight, a second round stoppage to Manny Pacquiao, and made the decision to retire after launching a successful promoting career. Hatton's only other defeat was a tenth-round TKO to Floyd “Money” Mayweather in December 2007.
There was talk of a return in April 2010 only for Hatton to tell The Guardian that the fire no longer burned and the speculation was just that. However, and in the same interview, Hatton admitted that local trainer Bob Shannon would be given the task of whipping him back into prime form should he ever lace up the gloves again. BoxingScene contacted Shannon, who currently trains Denton Vassell, Matty Askin and Shinny Bayaar, to ask the veteran coach if he could either confirm or deny the rumours surrounding the 'Hatton returns' headlines.
“I haven't spoken to Ricky, I believe he has been away on his holidays, and if I did know whether or not he was coming back I would keep it to myself because I believe that a fighter should be the one to let his family, fans and friends know if he is going to fight again,” said Shannon when asked if Hatton had spoken to him about a return.
“If he does decided to do it, then I think the Amir Khan fight [a shocking loss to Danny Garcia on Saturday night] might have helped him decide once and for all because Amir has slipped up a few times trying to get to where Ricky was for so long in his career. As a trainer, I would love to work with Ricky, he once told the press that I'd be perfect for him when asked who he would train with if he did come back. Ricky would need someone who can get him back into that great shape, someone like myself with experience of doing that.”
Shannon maintains that the fighter should decide what he does and does not do with his career and that the final decision should be made by Hatton, who retired with a 45-2 (32) slate, and be based on his own appraisal of what he has left.
“Only Ricky knows how he feels, but he might feel that there's always been unfinished business with him because in his only two defeats his preparation wasn't as good as he'd have liked or the referee stopped him working on the inside, so it might have been in the back of his mind that he only lost to the best and each time there were reasons that were a big factor,” said Shannon. “Ricky might still have questions that he needs to find the answers to.
“Ricky could take a [Paulie] Malignaggi fight straight away because of the level of fighter he was. It would be a case of going back in the gym, getting some good sparring and seeing what he feels about what he has left. Ricky's a great judge of boxing, so he knows that Malignaggi is a guy he has beaten once and this is a golden opportunity to win his old WBA [welterweight] title back, which he never lost in the ring.
“Getting Ricky's timing back would be crucial. I always thought he went away bit too early and still had something left because he was such a good fighter. If that timing is back then he's still a match for anyone in the world.
“Maybe something has woke up again in Ricky, and it is a case of 'Who dares wins' because if he wants it then he can do big things, put the demons from his last fight away and show people he's still got it. Time has gone on, but if he didn't show it in the gym I'd tell him because I respect Ricky as a person and know his family, so wouldn't ask him to do anything he couldn't do any more.
“Ricky, like his brother Matthew and his dad Ray, is the type of person who sets his mind to something then goes out and does it. He wanted to be a top boxer and did it, he wanted to be a promoter and did that, and he has recently had success as a trainer – winning the European title with Sergey Rabchenko by getting him to a win over Ryan Rhodes, who is still a very, very good fighter.”
However, should Hatton return and link up with Shannon, the trainer feels that the two men have enough professionalism to work as a team and ensure that the boxer-trainer balance is just right. “Ricky was always a good ambassador for British boxing and a lively person who the public loved,” he said.
“I've also got a lot of respect for him as a boxer. I think he has respect for me as a trainer and we're not in each other's pockets, so I can be intense with him in the gym during the early days of training when things are hard.
“If Ricky wants to do it, then he'll come back and fight in the biggest fights he can get. I'd love the opportunity to train him. I love his style of fighting and know what he's all about when he gets in that ring. Whatever he decided, he knows I wish him all the best and know he'll always find a way to succeed – he's that type of person.”
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