By Terence Dooley
Matthew Hatton headed into retirement earlier today after a career that saw him win and defend the EBU welterweight title, vie for Commonwealth and world honours, and he also came close to netting an IBO title win when drawing with Lovemore Ndou in November 2009. Hatton, 43-7-2 (17), challenged Chris Van Heerden for the South African’s IBO belt in March — losing by scores of 110-118, 112-117 and 112-116 — and has decided to resist the temptation to return to the ring for another title run.
“The one thing that I always wanted out of my career was the chance to say that I was a world champion,” said Hatton when announcing his retirement. “After the loss to Van Heerden, I thought about retiring straightaway because I genuinely believe that I should have been able to beat a fighter of that standard. That’s not me being disrespectful to Chris because he is a good fighter but I just think to be at the level I believed I could be at, I had to be beating fighters of Chris’ calibre.”
Hatton picked up an eye injury during the run up to the bout, the surgery required to repair the nerve damage would have ruled him out for a further eighth months and this delay, coupled with his family commitments, prompted the 32-year-old to make the difficult decision to walk away from the sport.
He said: “When you’ve got kids, you begin to realise what is important in life and when you’ve got a doctor pointing out all the possibilities of what could go wrong, it puts things into perspective. I’ve got two young children now and even though they can act as a motivation tool for fighters, they also highlight the risks that a fighter takes every time we step into the ring. I’ve come out of the sport with no real damage done and I’m extremely grateful for that. I’ve earned well, my health is intact and I’ve achieved an awful lot for a fighter that a lot of people wrote off.”
Hatton’s EBU title fights saw him defeat the experienced Gianluca Branco and Yuri Nuzhnenko, both by decision, and he stopped Roberto Belge in his second defence of the belt before fighting Saul Alvarez for the vacant WBC light-middleweight title at California’s Honda Center in March 2011. Despite losing by a trio of 108-119 cards, Hatton’s grit and determination won him plenty of fans and the praise of HBO executives.
“That European title run was a big highlight for me because it finally showed people that I was a good fighter and I could certainly mix it at a high level,” added "Magic" when confirming the news via a press release sent out by Coldwell Boxing, who represented him for his recent fights. “My career has had many ups and down over the years and the only thing that I’d maybe change was the fact that I never had much of an amateur career. I’ve had to work hard in every single fight from the get go but that has made me the fighter who I am and boxing has given me so many memorable nights.
“I’ve had the chance to work with so many promoters and trainers throughout my life and it’d take me a long time to thank each and every one of them but the two people I’d like to mention are Bob Shannon and Lee Beard. They’re the two who I really connected with and the hard work and effort they put in to me is something I’ll never forget. I’ve learned from many great trainers and I’ll be hoping to put the knowledge to good use because I definitely want to stay in the sport because I’d get a real buzz taking a young fighter to a big title.”
Shannon reciprocated Hatton’s praise when speaking to BoxingScene about his former charge’s retirement. He said: “Matthew was with me from 2010 until 2012 [a decision defeat to Kell Brook was their last fight together] — he was a wonderful pro with a deceptive record. I was looking over his record last night and it really is a great testament to his desire and will because people forget that he didn’t have the same amateur pedigree that other fighters brought over to the pros. Matt’s style was very good, very defensively cute, and he had a great engine on him. We did a 13 round pad session once that had to be seen to be believed. Matt was as strong and active in round 10 as he was in round one and I always mention this to my fighters when we talk about fitness — it was an incredible session.
“Matt was my first European champion, he defended it against the best on offer and his fight against Alvarez was a proud moment for me. Matt took on a top, top man and I was proud to train him for that fight, his performance won over many people. Matt showed a world-class chin and defence to stay with Alvarez, and above his own natural weight, so it was great to be part of his journey in that fight. I’d love to have another Matt Hatton walk into the gym. He never let anyone down, was a great pro and I wish Matt the best of luck in his new career. [Shannon’s wife] Jean and I will always hold him and his family close to our hearts.”
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