My former opponent Ricky Hatton, the late Diego Corrales, and Ivan Calderon are all very worthy inductees into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Calderon’s among the best lighter-weight fighters of the modern era, but because he lacked the punching power of some his rivals he was under-appreciated. He won world titles because of his longevity and boxing acumen. Corrales was in many terrific fights – ones he both won and lost, and was essential viewing. Hatton, most simply, was the king of fanfare. 

Hatton was a very good, exciting fighter, and he and his fans brought such energy to his fights that they became events that were great to be a part of. The contributions Hatton made weren’t just about his wins – it was also the eyes he brought to boxing. He wasn’t just a fighter. 

A fighter transcending the sport to the point of thousands of fans travelling to each of their fights is a reflection of them as both a fighter and person. Hatton commanded attention, and to the extent it was like the UK would stop and watch when he fought.

In the summer of 2008 I beat Lovemore Ndou on the undercard of his victory over Juan Lazcano at the City of Manchester Stadium, when stadium fights weren’t really a thing, and that became one of the coolest experiences of my career. The success Manchester City have since had means I appreciate the opportunity to fight there even more. The energy that night – there was such a buzz. Ricky just lit the place up.

That fight was another Hatton event. There were so many people at the weigh-in you could barely move. I was mobbed – and can only imagine how much more intense that was for Ricky. Before his comeback against Vyacheslav Senchenko in 2012 he only lost to the elite – Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. He achieved a lot.

I’d beaten Senchenko before then, and if Hatton had won that night we were going to have a rematch in the spring of 2013 that I couldn’t wait for. I wasn’t convinced by Senchenko as an opponent for him – there had also been talk of Michael Katsidis, who as a natural lightweight seemed a better alternative for a fighter coming back after three years out – and partly because Hatton had never really convinced at welterweight.

I was flown in to be there the night of Hatton-Senchenko at the Manchester Arena so that our rematch could be announced at the post-fight press conference, and I couldn’t wait to see the crowd. The sound of the drums; of the chants of “There’s only one Ricky Hatton”. “Oh my goodness – he’s back.”

What he had was very rare. His fight with Mayweather in 2007 was such a big deal that he became a pioneer for British boxing. It’s not just the thousands of fans who flew over to be present that night in Las Vegas, it’s the fans who continued to watch boxing after he retired, in a country that’s since been able to sell out stadiums for fights involving Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

Corrales’ fight with Jose Luis Castillo in 2005 is one of the best we’ve ever seen. Corrales was a kamikaze; I’ve never forgotten how after that fight he said he’d fight him again. Fighters are forever talking, but Corrales would actually do whatever he said, and if he could, he’d then do even more. I’ve also not forgotten him having a hole in his mouth when he fought Joel Casamayor in 2003 and attempting to fight on. 

He was proving himself as a professional when I was nearing the end of my amateur career, and when I was a young professional he was entering his prime. I couldn’t help but look up to him, and dreamed of emulating him. He was almost as much of a fan favourite as Hatton.

Calderon was a very celebral fighter, and an Olympian – and as someone who fought on the amateur scene in New York is another I couldn’t help but admire. He was a very, very crafty boxer, which contributed to his longevity at weights where fighters’ primes are typically short.

Women’s boxing has never been stronger than it is in 2024, so it also seems appropriate that Jane Couch and Ana Maria Torres are being inducted. Couch was even more of a pioneer for women’s boxing than Hatton was in Britain. Without her, the likes of Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields, Amanda Serrano and more would struggle to have the platforms and profiles they do.

It continues to mean a lot for retired fighters to reach the hall of fame. They’ll forever appreciate the recognition they get. It’s a career that requires a lot of sacrifice – not that fighters don’t enjoy their careers. Often, we love what we do. But when our careers end we struggle to replace that rush of adrenaline, and the attention our fights can generate, so to get the appreciation of being inducted can almost be life-changing for those fortunate enough to experience it.