By Terence Dooley
Manchester’s Matthew Hatton, the younger brother of Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, is looking for a new trainer after splitting with Bob Shannon. Shannon guided Hatton to the EBU and IBF International welterweight titles and was in his corner for an unsuccessful vacant WBC light-middleweight title fight with Saul Alvarez in California as well as the recent domestic showdown with Sheffield’s Kell Brook.
Shannon hooked up with “Magic” prior to his non-title fight with Mikheil Khutsishvili in February 2010 – a fifth-round TKO victory. They followed this up with a decision win over Gianluca Branco for the EBU 147lb title, which Hatton successfully defended against Yuriy Nuzhnenko and Roberto Belge, a point’s win and third-round KO respectively, before dropping a wide decision to Alvarez in March 2011. The 31-year-old bounced back with a win over Andrei Abramenka last August before losing over 12-rounds to Brook at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena in March of this year.
Hatton suffered a broken nose early in the Brook fight, but his canny defensive ability plus fitness helped him negotiate the championship distance while frustrating “Special K”, who had hoped to register a KO win over his rival.
The fighter, who holds a 42-6-2 (16) record, contacted Shannon to thank him for his efforts, but admitted that he is looking for a new training team as he bids to have a final push at title glory. Shannon phoned through to BoxingScene to wish his former charge well and reflect on their time together.
“I am feeling a mixture of pride and disappointment,” said Shannon. “I feel proud of what I did with Matthew, but I am disappointed that he’s moved on as I wanted to take the next step with him and get back to the European title or even help him win his first British title belt.
“Matthew did me the courtesy of contacting me to break the news. I am sad to see him leave my Fighting Fit gym, but I wish him nothing but the best because he’s a great, lovely lad who is a real warrior. People have given Matt a bit of stick over the years, but when he was with me he picked up a major title and the only reason he lost to Alvarez and Brook is because they had a bit of an edge in natural talent.
“Matt was fit for those fights, he had a plan and it was just unfortunate that those lads were so good, but it is a testament to his desire and pride that he took on two boys who look like they’re future superstars on the international scene. I think that the fitness work we did held in him in good stead in those fights during tough moments.
He added: “I feel I went that extra yard at all times with Matt, he thanked me publicly for working with him on certain things such as his balance and timing and I feel he is a better fighter for his time in my gym. It was a real pleasure to work with him – I enjoy him as a person and as a fighter because you don’t get many better than Matthew Hatton.
“Of course, I am devastated by the news, but what can you do? I will concentrate on working hard to make sure that my other lads Denton Vassell and Matty Askin have a great year. You know how boxing works, hopefully a few lads will walk into my gym in coming months looking to start a journey with me or find new inspiration in a career that has stalled.
“I’m always happy to take on a lad on as long as he has sat down with his current trainer to thrash things out and both parties have decided to make the difficult decision to split. It is a tough business, so us trainers all have to make sure we do right by each other. I’ve advised Matt to now speak to other trainers with my support and blessings if his heart is set on a change of scene.”