By Terence Dooley
Boxing is in fine fettle here in the U.K., the weekend of 7/8 December saw an avalanche of shows and the sport has a home on Sky TV plus terrestrial network Channel 5, it has a dedicated subscription channel in BoxNation and Loaded, Sky channel 200, have recently entered the fray. There have been thrills, spills, controversy and a smattering of quality fights and performances, BoxingScene ran the rule over the British scene’s 2012 to name the best of the best, but everyone who has put a shift in during these tough times should take a bow.
British Fighter of the year: Carl Froch
Nottingham’s Carl Froch endured a bittersweet end to 2011, “The Cobra” made it all the way to the final of the Super Six tournament only to drop a decision to Andre Ward at Atlantic’s City’s Boardwalk Hall venue. Undeterred by this setback, Froch agreed to fight Lucian Bute, the IBF Super middleweight champion. They met on May 26 in an Eddie Hearn-promoted event at Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena. It was a great night for Froch’s Nottingham faithful, who watched their man register a fifth-round stoppage of Bute. Froch built on this in November by beating Yusaf Mack in the third round at the same arena. Now firmly in the hunt for rematches with Ward and Mikkel Kessler, the 30-2 (22) fighter is respected across the board and a joy to work with according to Hearn, who accepted the award on Froch’s behalf.
“After the bitter disappointment over the loss to Andre Ward, 2012 was a make-or-break year for Carl, he took the Bute fight knowing everything was on the line, he had to deliver or potentially face the end of his career,” said Hearn.
“It is a night we’ll never forget. In my opinion it was one of the greatest nights in British boxing history, the intensity in the arena was great and spurred Carl on to produce one of the greatest performances we’ve ever seen. To beat Bute and become three-time champion of the world makes Carl a worthy winner.”
British event of the year: David Haye versus Dereck Chisora at Upton Park on July 14
It started with a press conference brawl, but Haye versus Chisora ended in a heavyweight slugfest at London’s Upton Park and was the cherry on top of an event that could not be dampened by the heavy rain that fell throughout the night. Haye and Chisora’s story began in February with an unseemly fight at the post-fight press conference after Chisora’s wide decision defeat to WBC heavyweight titlist Vitali Klitschko. Chisora had his licence withdrawn indefinitely by the BBBoC, Haye was already retired and escaped censure because of this, and the fight seemed a million miles away from officially happening until Frank Warren, in his capacity as Chisora’s manager, secured his man a Luxembourg Boxing Federation license. This move led to an outcry from the BBBoC, although their threats of legal action came to naught. BoxNation and Hayemaker promoted the event, Frank Warren, though, was instrumental in ensuring it took place — he believes that it will take some beating as a sporting occasion.
“It was a fabulous event, everyone involved worked hard on it,” said Warren when speaking to BoxingScene earlier today. “It was a BoxNation event and a lot of work went into it. If you think back, it rained solidly for three weeks before the fight, so it is remarkable when you consider how many people were there and how exciting it was, because it was an exciting fight.
“I don’t see why it shouldn’t have taken place, it was all legal and lawful. The best thing about it was how both guys dealt with each other, they shook hands afterwards and settled their differences in the ring, and they are pals now, which is good. Besides the fight itself, the atmosphere was really good, it was friendly and people from all walks of life enjoyed themselves. It is a shame we had all the bullshit before it, but it was a great occasion.
“People were singing in the rain, it was a carnival type of atmosphere and everyone got involved with it. It is up there with the best nights, Dereck had lost three out of his last four going into it, David Haye had been beaten by Wlad Klitschko, but the promotion and work that went into it made it such a great success.
“I’ve been a big critic of David in the past, but this year he’s done well for himself, he came out of the fight well, the crowd loved him, and he did well on the TV show [I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here]. Dereck redeemed himself — he always gives 100% in the ring, as he did against Klitschko. But, yeah, I’d like to work with David again and I liked working with Adam Booth. I like Adam, I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
The event showed that the sport could still draw widespread attention. “It is in good health, isn’t it, because there’s more boxing on TV than ever before,” stated Warren. “The other week you had more fighters in action in the ring than since 1952, which was before I was born, so that shows you where we are. Sky TV are doing a great job, Channel 5 are involved and BoxNation are doing big things and making a dramatic difference to the scene. It shows all the — and I hate to use this term — idiots who wanted to see BoxNation fall on its face that it is great for boxing to have a dedicated boxing channel where the public get what they pay for — the best fights from around the world.”
Don’t just take Warren’s word for it, Glyn Leach, the owner and editor of Boxing Monthly, was also at Upton Park, he witnessed an event that affirmed, rather than shamed, the sport. ‘There's no point in pretending that boxing isn't its own worst enemy at times and Haye-Chisora had disaster written all over it,’ writes Leach when summing up the event for BoxingScene.
‘From its vulgar and opportunistic conception amidst scenes of mindless ugliness through to the crass commercialism that turned an unlicensed fight — which it wasn't, but who was listening? — into British boxing's biggest and most-talked-about event since the turn of the century, the evening was a PR nightmare long before darkness fell inside a football stadium filled with the kind of faces that the CCTV cameras in the police command room recognised all too well from match days.
‘And then, as if to put the final nail in the coffin of the night that would bring about the end of boxing in Britain as we knew it, it rained — as in really rained. The thousands at Woodstock, the music festival that symbolised the peace and love generation of the 1960s, banded together and chanted for its deluge to stop, but the crowd at sport's black sheep sporting event of 2012 and of every other Olympic year, ignored it, treated idealism with disdain. In comparative terms, this wasn't Woodstock, it was Altamont, the festival that sounded the death knell the hippy dream. All that was missing was the Hells Angels on acid and a body full of stab wounds.
‘The scene had been set by the sensationalist media, and those sensationalists within the sensible media, and the picture was far from pretty, but looking back on that evening today, what do we remember? The end of the world as we knew it? The death of boxing on a Somme-like battlefield patrolled by uncontrollable psychopaths, with anti-boxing's press corps scribbling frantic epitaphs in the blood of a sport as they fulfilled their designer camouflage Kate Adie fantasies?
‘Get real. All boxing ever needs to shut the mouths of these fools is its immortal ability to make a crowd's jaws drop agape and to send those same paying customers home with silly smiles on their faces, the variety that says: "Bloody hell, what a great night out!" And the reason for that was simple. For all that had preceded it, Haye-Chisora made people happy. It wasn't a great fight as such, but it delivered everything that the public — those blood-thirsty moronic savages who are so easily manipulated by intellects both greater and more base — asked of it: a villain, a hero, an impressive knockout, and the cherry-on-the-top of a hug and a handshake at the end to remind the detractors that boxing, beneath all the bullshit and even when it only gets half it right, is the greatest sport in the world and one that will continue to defy expectations long after its critics have faded into obscurity and then been forgotten.
‘You can keep your Mo Farah, I'm with Del Boy.’
Trainer of the year: Robert McCracken
Robert McCracken’s steady guidance of Froch coupled with the success of the 2012 Olympic boxing team capped a really strong recent run from the no-nonsense coach, who heads the Team GB set-up in Sheffield as well as providing a calm, consistent voice in Froch’s corner. Eddie Hearn was quick to sing the praises of the former world title challenger when accepting the award on McCracken’s behalf.
“In my opinion, Robert is one of, if not the, best trainer in the world,” stated Hearn. “He is a quiet man with no interest in self-publicity or portraying himself as the greatest trainer in the world, he goes about his job, he is a boxing man who loves the sport and the job he’s done for the Team GB set-up speaks for itself. Every fighter who has ever worked with him speaks highly of him and the relationship he has with his fighters is very special — it is a real fighter-mentor relationship he has with Carl. He is phenomenal, we’re very lucky to have a coach like that in the country.”
British knockout of the year: David Price KO 1 Audley Harrison
David Price made the first defence of his British heavyweight title against Audley Harrison at the Echo Arena on October 13. The Liverpudlian was widely expected to win, but a KO was seen as the only acceptable result. Price exceeded expectations by hammering the former WBA heavyweight world title challenger to defeat at 1:22 of the opener after landing some huge right hands. Price followed this up by stopping Matt Skelton in November; he now takes on America’s Tony Thompson at the same venue on February 23. The 29-year-old knows that the rounds will come, but he is happy to take first-round knockouts over the likes of Harrison, and was equally happy to have his win named as KO of the year.
“I’m proud to have won this, we’ve seen some big knockouts this year and last so it is great to be up there,” said Price, 15-0 (13). “I think it is well-deserved as well because it was a clinical knockout in a big fight.
“I wouldn’t say heavyweight boxing is all about that, but it is 90% about knockouts because historically the heavyweights produced those big punches and knockouts — it is human nature. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I want to provide entertainment at the same time, so it is good to get that type of knockout.
“As soon as I hit Audley with the first right hand, I knew I could get him out there. To stop Audley in the first round was a big thing because if I‘d have won on points people would have thought that was a bit shit, it was a no-win fight for me in that way, so the end was impressive because anyone who knows boxing knows that it was a big thing for someone to stop Audley like that in only their 14th fight.”
He added: “I get rounds in the gym, if the knockout comes then I take it. I’d take first-round knockouts for the rest of my career if I could, but you do need rounds and there will be someone who will take me the rounds and I’ll have to use my boxing skills against them.”
Grafter of the year: Dean Powell
People within the U.K. boxing scene invariably name Frank Warren Promotions’s matchmaker Dean Powell as the hardest working person in the sport. Powell has a knack for making he right fight at the right time and is always available to take a call, which comes in handy in the age of rolling news coverage. Powell outlined his approach to his trade during a conversation with BoxingScene.
“I am very fortunate,” he said. “Things are tough, but we have to keep on going and I’m a great believer in looking forward and not looking back. I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter what time of day or night an opponent pulls out, once they’re out they’re out and there’s nothing you can do to put them back in. Screaming and shouting is not going to do anything because all you’re doing is taking the positive energy out of yourself, you need to keep that positive energy to work things out.”
Like Warren, Powell named the Upton Park show as a highlight as well as pointing to the steady progress made by FWP’s fighters. He said: “Upton Park was a great thing because we did a lot for that show. Frank did what he had to do, we all got behind him and it ended right.
“I’m really pleased with the way the year ended for [Commonwealth and British middleweight champion] Billy Joe Saunders and his progress. As a team, we’ve all done our jobs for Billy and the kid did his job very well, that was a big plus for me.
“Frankie Gavin finally fulfilling his potential and winning the British welterweight title was big for me. George Groves’s performance against Glen Johnson was another one where we all did our job. We made the match then Adam [Booth] did his job in getting George ready and George did his job in winning the fight convincingly. It has been a hard year, but a lot of positives came out of it. Mickey Duff always said it was about timing and the timing was perfect with Johnson, George did a great job and will move onto bigger and better things in 2013.
“I’m quite a somber person normally, but I’ve got more optimism than usual. November, December, January, February through to mid-March are tough, but I’m looking forward to the next step for a few of the boys — it will be nice to see them moving forward. I’m looking forward to Martin Gethin getting his chance early in the New Year [he takes on Ben Murphy for the vacant British and Commonwealth titles on January 18]. It will be a hard fight, but we were really proud of him when he beat Carl Johanneson [by 11-round TKO in September]. I’m confident he can win the belt and Frankie will get his first notch on a Lonsdale belt [he meets Jason Welborn in the main event], so the year will start well for us.
“As Mickey also said: ‘Sometimes it is not about ability, it is about availability’, and I’m always available to take a call. Even if I’m on holiday, people can get me until 12 o’clock at night or from 7 the next morning because sometimes missing that one call can make all the difference, so I try to take that onboard.
“We all have to work together (in boxing). I have a good relationship with people like Mickey Helliet, Jon Pegg and guys like that, or Errol Johnson and Carl Greaves, they can ring me at any time to ask if I have anyone available and I can do the same with them, and that’s a big thing.”
The “He ain’t got time to bleed” award for a one-man assault on the FOTY award: Derry Mathews
It is clear to see why the fans flock to the Liverpudlian’s fights after Derry Mathews continued to provide value for money during 2012. A bloody loss to Emiliano Marsili in January was followed by a comeback win over Anthony Crolla for the British lightweight title. Mathews then waged a FOTY contender with Gavin Rees for the European title before engaging in a war of attrition against his own damaged eyes during October’s Prizefighter: The Lightweights competition. Mathews was cut above both eyes during the tournament and lost a bloody final to Manchester’s Terry Flannigan. The 29-year-old closed out 2012 with a routine first-round win over Asan Yuseinovon on a Coldwell Promotions show in December before vowing to provide even more thrills and spills over the coming year, or two.
“It is part of the job and you have to get in there and perform,” said Mathews when discussing his thrilling run of fights. “People don’t have to come out and support you, so you have to repay the fans back by having these good fights and having hard wars. I’m delighted with the year I’ve had, hopefully 2013 will see the same again.
“I’m always in the zone, even in training camp I tell myself that it will be a hard fight and that the tactics have to be prepared right. Danny Vaughan, my coach, knows the game inside out and he’ll tell me what I need to do to win, and that’s what I did in some of my fights last year.
“Obviously I won the British lightweight title this year, I was delighted with that, and it was great to win it under Danny, so that was a great thing itself. People talked about Crolla going on to fight [Erik] Morales or [Marco Antonio] Barrera and I stopped him in his tracks. I was delighted with my performance.
“Gavin’s going to fight Adrian Broner for the WBC title [on February 16] so I’m delighted to have shared the ring with him. We’re two warriors, he’s a great champion and I can tell people I mixed with the best in the world in Gavin. I gave him a good run for his money for nine rounds, felt I was winning the fight, then got caught, so I can look back at the end of my career at that one and say I shared the ring with a world champion.”
Derry has talked of retirement at the end of the coming year, but he will stick around until 2014 and beyond should he continue to contest major honours. He said: “What I said is that if I can win a Commonwealth then I’ll go on with that and would love to win a British title to own outright. If I’m still a champion at the end of this year then I won’t give up.”
British fight of the year: Anthony Crolla W10 Kieran Farrell
Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla, 25-4 (9), was bruised, bloodied but definitely unbowed by recent experiences going into his December 7 English title fight with local rival Kieran Farrell, 14-1 (3). A stoppage to Derry Mathews had seen Crolla lose his British title and he went out of Prizefighter: The Lightweights at the semifinal stage after a decision defeat to former conqueror Gary Sykes yet Crolla weathered an early storm against Farrell to net a deserved decision win. Farrell was taken to hospital after collapsing in the corner after the fight; the 22-year-old suffered a slight bleed to the brain and faces an anxious wait over his boxing future. Crolla will move forward in 2013, but he will never forget the ten rounds of action he shared with his younger rival.
“It is down to people like yourself and not me, but everyone who was there loved it and it was a honour to be involved with so I’m made up if people think it is the best fight of the year,” said Crolla when discussing the bout.
“I’ve got to be honest, Kieran brought it and a lot of fighters would have been disheartened, but he kept coming and played a massive part. I expected a tough fight — Kieran was strong and would have broken a lot of peoples hearts in that fight and made them quit.
“It got me back in the mix, got people talking again and was good because I didn’t want to come back in a six rounder against a journeyman. I want every fight to be meaningful and not tucked away on an undercard. That’s why I took it straight away when it came up. I knew that I couldn’t give him the chance to keep walking me down, so I stood with him a little bit to take a little bit out of Kieran as well and then got behind the jab.”
Crolla’s greater boxing experience and nous came to the fore as the fight ticked on, proving that it is not just all about pressure in trainer Joe Gallagher’s camp. Crolla believes that the mix of fighters and styles in Gallagher’s stable makes a mockery of accusations that they only work on pressure fighting.
“We laugh about that quite often because it isn’t true,” he said. “Look at Scott Quigg against Rendall Rendall [in November], he didn’t just stand there, and I’ve always been able to box and have done that in fights. It showed another side to me and Joe — a side people may have forgotten about.
“I didn’t have the best year, I’d be lying if I said it was great, Prizefighter didn’t work out for me, I lost my British title, but I have no regrets and stayed active and fighting. Now I’ve ended the year on a high and am looking forward to 2013.”
Farrell’s future as a fighter is up in the air yet Crolla feels that, whatever the New Year brings, Kieran’s enthusiasm for the game will shine through and carry the Heywood-based boxer to big things. If there was a ‘Heart as big as Arturo Gatti’s’ award then Farrell would run away with it, so we created one especially for him and Crolla accepted it on his behalf.
“Kieran’s a lad who lives for boxing, he is massively dedicated and you saw how bad he wanted it when we fought,” said Crolla. “If he can’t fight again then I’m sure he can bring his own champions through with his knowledge. If a fighter can be half as dedicated as him then they’ll go far and have the right frame of mind. Kieran showed he belongs in championship class, he may have lost, but I honestly believe he’d have beaten a lot of good lightweights that night, so there’s a lot out there for him if he can carry on.”
Overseas fighter of the year: Juan Manuel Marquez
The Mexican maestro went 2-0 (1) in 2012 and finally put his long-running argument with Manny Pacquiao to bed by handing his rival a knockout defeat in a late candidate for fight of the year. Marquez is now 1-2-1 against his fellow modern day legend, but the nature of the KO win was manna from heaven for his legion of fans, with Anthony Crolla chief amongst them.
“I’ve got to be honest, I think the finish was brilliant, but I thought Marquez looked old there,” said Crolla when speaking about our pick for ‘Overseas fighter of the year’. “For the first time, I was worried that Manny might stop him, so I’d like to see Marquez stop now, but that won’t happen. It would be nice to finish on that high, he scored a knockdown in the third, but in rounds four and five he looked like he’d slowed down that little bit so this could be the right time to go.”
Video journalists of the year: iFilm London and Britishboxers.co.uk
Some people are content to keep their handheld camera on themselves as they rant away, a few look into the lens and provide insightful, professional analysis, our winners go to fights, gyms and press conferences. Talking heads take note, iFilm London and Britishboxers both headed out into the boxing world during 2012 and they brought back some quality stuff.
“It is always good to get into the gyms,” said Chris Maylett of Britishboxers.co.uk. “I speak to the boxers and trainers and ask them about the things that I’m interested in. You sometimes watch video interviews and they’re too fleeting, I like autobiographies in general and like to talk to these characters about what inspires them to do what they do.
“I don’t think anyone’s interested in listening to me talk about boxing, it is about the lads — I enjoy meeting them and asking them questions about their careers. Not all the interviews are with established boxers, some are up-and-coming fighters and I like to give them exposure.”
Maylett was caught in the melee in Munich when Haye and Chisora brought British Club 18-30s style carnage to the continent, he kept his camera close to his chest and recorded footage that was picked up by Sky and other media outlets. Click this link to revisit that night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So0MX4JdMs8&feature=watch_response or check out Maylett’s interview with Ensley Bingham: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYGFZ8qIa48 .
Kugan Cassius has taken iFilm London from strength-to-strength in recent years, he heads up a small, dedicated team and their interviews range from informative, entertaining to downright fun, especially when they bump into Adam Booth. Kugan and everyone else associated with iFilm London have shown a different side to video journalism.
‘We are absolutely honored as well as delighted to win the category for BoxingScene's Best Video Journalist,’ stated iFilm London when told of the news. ‘Recently turned two years old, iFilm London's long term ambition of becoming the U.K.'s most foremost and consistent source for British boxing on the internet, is going according to plan, but not yet finished. We will strive to improve our levels of content in 2013. We would like to thank everyone that has followed and supported our somewhat 'unorthodox' movement in boxing media, and look forward to bringing you more of the same next year.’
iFilm London go in-depth with Eddie Hearn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b4b9uJG2Ng and Frank Warren: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjZ8GwM2eok
British promoter/promotional outfit of the year: Dave Coldwell and Coldwell Boxing
Frank Warren, Eddie Hearn, Frank Maloney and Mick Hennessy have all maintained throughout 2012, Coldwell Boxing have made huge relative strides. They put on their first show in Manchester in October and followed it up with a December one, they also moved into other cities as well as continuing to provide action for their Yorkshire fans. Dave Coldwell’s decision to secure Tony Bellew’s British light-heavyweight title defence against Danny McIntosh via the purse bids system paid off when the bout was picked up by Sky and they recently launched an online app so that fans can stream their shows. They also have an On Demand service: http://coldwell.tv/ . Throw in the signings of Derry Mathews and a mixture of prospects and rising pros plus their ability to attract headline acts such as Matthew Hatton and you have a company that is clearly on the rise.
“I cannot believe how well 2012 has gone,” said David Coldwell when accepting the award on behalf of his team. “Myself and [his business partner] Spencer [Fearn] couldn’t have asked for more this year. It has been brilliant, my Twitter’s gone crazy.”
Coldwell puts on close, competitive fights; he accepts that his fighters may lose the odd one, but as long as they learn he is happy to support their development. “A kid who is selling a £30 ticket for a show, their fans want to support them, but they also want to see them in a fight to see how good their mate, son or brother is,” he said.
“If they’re just bowling over foreigners then their fans will keep their £30 in their pockets and tell them to let them know when they’re having a good fight. If you’re a fan of a kid, you will come and watch them next time even if they get beaten in a fight where they’ve shown their quality — you’ll go away thinking it was a great fight, a great night and they can come again. I don’t think it harms ticket sales if someone loses, some will drop off, obviously, but, for a promoter, tough fights are valuable because if they go on to fight for a title then they’ve got resources in the memory banks to draw on in the later rounds.”
Coldwell believes that their app, which experienced problems on the launch night when fans sporadically lost the Crolla-Farrell feed, will go from strength-to-strength, and he plans to give something back due to the teething problems. Coldwell also feels that exciting fights draw in casual fans.
He said: “We had issues that first night. We lost 15% of the viewers, but got really good numbers, so that isn’t bad at all and what we’ll do to give something back is give the fans the next two shows for free. We’re not going to get rich on the app, we only charge £1.49 a show, but it is a chance to get exposure for the fighters and maybe other guys who haven’t got TV deals. There’s a lot of viewers out there, a lot of fans, and we’ve now got viewing on demand so they can catch Curtis Woodhouse’s fight against Dale Miles, which people said was an fantastic fight, and Crolla and Farrell’s fight.
“Everyone wants to see great fights and fighters have to be willing to take challenges. We didn’t watch Rocky become a huge franchise because Rocky won every fight nice and steadily, you watched those films because he lost and it was exciting. We talk about fights like [Brandon] Rios and [Mike] Alvarado at the end of the year, not the pure boxing exercises that Andre Ward puts on or fights like that. Ward is a fantastic fighter, but he’ll never be in a fight of the year, and for that reason he isn’t a big draw. There’s two sides to boxing, the side where people like undefeated records and champions, and the other side where they want to see exciting fights.
“When Tim Bradley fought Devon Alexander they were on HBO and in a good arena, but there were more fans in the house for Woodhouse against Miles than for that one, so that tells you what the fans want to see. You can have the talent, but if you don’t turn fans on then they won’t turn up or tune in on the TV screen.
“That’s the way boxing is going now, getting beaten isn’t the end. If Rios had lost to Alvarado do you think people would stop watching Rios? You would still watch his next fight, that’s how the game is. I will stay up until 5am in the morning to watch Rios, but will I stay up for Ward or record it for the next morning? I’ll watch it the next morning. I’m a big fan of Ward, I’m just using him as a case in point because I’d rather tune in for entertainment over a technical fight.”
BoxingScene’s ‘Promoter of the year’ tag may not be as glitzy a strap as a stack of title belts, but Coldwell is happy that his firm has been singled out by the world’s biggest boxing website. “BoxingScene’s massive, I am chuffed to bits with this,” he said.
“It reaches out to America and it is great that we get mentioned on this site. It is a massive honour for me and everyone at Coldwell Boxing, we’ve put a lot of graft in, but things like this make you glad people are noticing the end product of the shows.”
As for his abiding memories of the year, he said: “Having the Bellew fight on Sky was fantastic, but going on from that and putting on shows where fans are talking about the next show, getting on Ringside and things like that are massive highlights. We could have done Bellew then gone back into the slipstream, we didn’t and we’ve moved on from there. Curtis winning the English title against Dave Ryan in September was massive for me because we care about our fighters. Then moving into Manchester, signing fighters there and putting on shows there was really great. It has been phenomenal.”
Interview of the year: Steve Lillis getting up-close and personal with Ricky Hatton for November’s Boxing Monthly
When Steve Lillis sat down with Ricky Hatton for Boxing Monthly ahead of the Mancunian’s long-awaited November 24 comeback the veteran journalist — who has written for The Sport and the News Of The World, amongst many other publications — had years of history with “The Hitman” to draw upon. Lillis has been there since the beginning of Hatton’s career, the trust and familiarity between the two resulted in an interview that lifted the scar tissue on Hatton’s old wounds and saw the fighter honestly and brutally discuss the mental and physical hell that he had languished in since losing by a second-round KO to Manny Pacquiao in May 2009, which prompted Hatton into binge drinking, bad living and bouts of depression.
“It always helps if you have a good working relationship with the person you’re interviewing,” said Lillis. “But Ricky is the one who made the interview because he opened his heart. I’ve always had a really good relationship with him. Ricky’s always been more than fair with me. Sometimes you do an interview where you have to put colour into it, but with one like that you just throw the quotes in.”
Still, the strength of the quotes and Hatton’s candidness is a testimony to the many years he has sat down with Lillis and opened his heart safe in the knowledge that he is dealing with a fellow pro. You reap what you sow, the article captured a moment in Hatton’s personal life where he was ready to close one chapter and open another. The comeback itself may not have worked out, but his searingly honest pre and post-fight quotes suggest that, at long last, the former fighter has managed to find closure after a remarkable career.
You can purchase the November issue of Boxing Monthly by clicking on the following link: http://www.boxing-monthly.co.uk/content/1211/index.htm .
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