by Phil D. Jay
Former European welterweight champion ‘Magic’ Matthew Hatton has a new rival in his division and it is none other than his elder brother Ricky, who returns to ring following a three-year absence on November 24.
Matthew, the younger brother by 31 months, fights for a world title next year after a warm-up next week at Bowlers in Manchester, whilst Ricky will face former world champion and one-time rival of Matthew, Vyacheslav Senchenko at Manchester Arena.
With both brothers now fighting at the forefront of the 147lb weight-class, WBN spoke to Matthew about Ricky’s decision to come out of retirement on the back of his crushing knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in 2009.
“When I first heard of Richard's return to the ring it came as a big surprise to me,” Matthew told World Boxing News using Ricky’s full name out of brotherly respect.
“I obviously think the world of my brother and it is difficult to see someone you love fighting and vice versa as I know it is difficult for him to watch me, so in a way part of me was relieved when he retired.
“Richard is not daft though especially when it comes to boxing and nobody knows your own body better than yourself. He is also a very strong character and his own man, so nobody has the right to tell him to continue or retire.
“He knows his own body and capabilities and if he feels he can still achieve great things in the sport then that’s good enough for me and as always I am 100% behind him.
“I believe he is looking very well in the gym, but obviously I have been in training for my own fight against Michael Lomax for several weeks and having different trainers, in different gyms means it has been difficult to see him in action.
“Once I have taken care of my own business on the 12th October I will be down to the gym to have a look for myself first hand and help him in any way that I can.”
Ricky, 33, announced last Friday that his return opponent would be the Ukrainian Senchenko, who was on Matthew’s radar for a good six months at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 and could be a shrewd move according to the 31 year-old.
“I think it is a good choice of opponent for Richard. Senchenko is a former world champion with only one defeat and his credentials speak for themselves,” he pointed out.
“Obviously I have seen a fair bit of Senchenko as he was a target for myself a while ago. He won the title against one of my former victims Nuzhnenko and is a good solid fighter. But having seen him a few times, I feel if Richard can rediscover his old form then Senchenko won't have an enjoyable stay in Manchester and will struggle to hear the final bell.”
Many are suggesting that the ‘Hitman’ could be put straight in with Senchenko’s only conqueror Paulie Malignaggi if he can take out the former WBA champion next month and Matthew believes the more titles are possible for Ricky if the tank is still full.
“Obviously if Richard can rediscover his old form he would have no problems in winning another world title. But I am a realist and he has had a long period of inactivity. We will know more after the 24th November as Richard say's himself.”
Asked whether avenging his defeats to pound for pound stars Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao were on Ricky’s mind, Matthew was airing on the side of caution as to looking too far ahead to blockbuster clashes.
“I am not so sure if they are the names he is chasing though and only he can answer that. But Richard still feels he has a lot to offer to the sport and like I originally thought at the time, it ended so badly aganst Pacquiao.
"When you have had such a fantastic career as my brother has had, it’s only natural that you want to go out at the top on a high note.”
More realistic in Matthew’s eyes is the fight everyone is suddenly talking about; Amir Khan v Ricky, which could effectively be staged in a venue as big as Wembley Stadium with the amount of interest surrounding a domestic battle.
“100% the Khan fight can be made,” emphasized Matthew. “For me it is the natural fight to make and is a British blockbuster.
“If Richard rediscovers his old form and Amir can also get back on track, I am convinced this is a fight that is sure to take place.”
Ricky, or Richard’s comeback has no doubt got the British fans buzzing again and it is not only his brother’s instinct that makes him so protective as all the UK fans feel like they want to shelter Ricky from any more potential hurt in or outside of the ring.
But Hatton Snr is back doing what he loves doing, more importantly what he has missed doing and Matthew believes that his brother can go on for as long as he wants, with the stipulation that he hasn’t diminished in his ability to compete.
“How long can Ricky fight on for? Well how long can any fighter see themselves fighting for? The nature of the sport means any fighter’s career could end at any time.
“It all depends on how he performs in November, but hopefully it could be the start of something very special again and only time will tell.”
Phil D. Jay covers boxing for worldboxingnews.net