On why he chose boxing over football
“I was at Manchester City at the School of Excellence up to being 14 years of age but my boxing was taking off, I won my first Schoolboy Championship at 13 and then won two more at 14 so like most kids at that age, I was giving everything a bit of a try but I found out I was a little bit better at hitting people so I stuck to the boxing but boxing is a very addictive sport. I’m a massive, massive football fan and being at the School of Excellence I always wonder could I have played for Manchester City but probably not, if I’m honest. But in boxing you get all the praise and maybe that’s selfish, I’ll admit, thinking but it is a very addictive sport and that’s why it was so hard for me to retire and come to terms with retirement. You get your hand raised in front of 20,000, 40,000, 58,000 people, it’s very hard to say goodbye to that.”
On his inspiration
“No, people ask you who’s your inspiration and there is a lot of inspirations that come to mind like Muhammad Ali because he stood for more than boxing and then Roberto Duran was my all-time hero and Nigel Benn was the person who actually got me into boxing but it’s normally, like you say, passed down through the family tree, either your father or grandfather or someone has done it but no one in the family ever did it so we’re a little bit puzzled as to where it actually come from, yes.
“I tell a lie actually, yes, it was Bruce Lee films but for the same reason I went to the gym to do kickboxing, I went to the same gym, I just wanted to fight with someone! I like to think, I’m a laugh a minute, I’m like a bubbly character and I don’t think I’m an aggressive person although I’m aggressive in the boxing ring, but not away from the ring. That’s why people might still like me I guess.”
On his proudest moment
“People say to you, what was your proudest achievement and my best win was Kostya Tszyu and when you look at Mayweather and Pacquiao, they will probably go down as two of the best of all time but my proudest achievement was my fan base, do you know what I mean? I’m not saying I’m the greatest British fighter of all time because I’m not but I don’t think any of them, even my heroes like Big Frank [Bruno] and Nigel Benn, they never had the following I had and that’s the proudest achievement I took into retirement. It started off at Las Vegas, the first fight 6,000 went over and for the Castillo fight 10,000 went over and then for Mayweather 30,000 went over and 20,000 for the Pacquiao fight and that was unheard of and that’s the proudest achievement I brought out of the sport.”
On his crazy fans
“I’ve seen a few strange ones over the years, they used to just take over everywhere, do you know what I mean? I’d come out the lift in the hotel, the lift doors would fly open and you’d just see security guys just throwing them out, arresting them and throwing them out of the doors and you’d walk up and see them all stood on the slot machines and tables with pint pots like that. The American supporters must have thought oh I can’t wait for these lot to go home but it was entertaining. I did a lot of big fights in Vegas but my fans were football fans, there were the songs left, right and centre, they created a party atmosphere. For the Mayweather fight, even Floyd said to me that will never, ever be done again, Rick, the atmosphere that the fans created and I’ve always had a very strong bond with the fans, yes.”
On winning a title at Man City
“I did and having been a City fan from the age of 13, as I mentioned earlier, I always dreamt of becoming a world champion from a very, very young age and when I was 13, even then – and I’ve never been an arrogant person but even then I believed I was going to be a world champion and I wanted to fight at Maine Road first but I never got the chance at Maine Road but then I got the chance, which was an even better chance, to fight at the City of Manchester Stadium.
“It was after the Mayweather fight and all those fans came over to watch the Mayweather fight and it was very hard for me to come to terms with because I wasn’t just happy to be in there with the best, I genuinely thought I was going to beat him and when I didn’t it was hard for me to come to terms with, which was obviously very well documented. Then for the return fight, I decided to carry on with my career and the fight was at the City of Manchester Stadium and we geared it up for 58,000, that was the capacity it was going to be. It is 20,000 at the Manchester Arena and I thought if we can get 30 or 35,000 that would be brilliant and 58,000, the capacity, went in a month. For someone who had suffered the defeat by Mayweather and was thinking of packing it in, I think the best way the fans could support me was by turning out in their droves for my homecoming, that’s what it was and being a City fan it was one of the proudest nights of my life.”
After losing to Mayweather and suffering from depression
“It was terrible, yes. I had suffered from depression for quite some time and a lot of things were going wrong. I got beat by Mayweather and then I was back up, I fought Lazcano then at City and I was back up. Then I fell out with my trainer, Billy Graham, he was my best mate so then I was down. Then I beat Pauly Malignaggi which was probably one of my best wins, then I fell out with my parents. My mind was going up and down and for a short while there I didn’t care whether I lived or died, I tried killing myself several times but I had a good girlfriend behind me, good people, a good team behind and when I look now, I got myself fit, I ended up making my comeback fight and now I actually train boxers and trying to bring the next champion we can be proud of through, it’s where I’ve come from and it is probably one of my best achievements because I was probably on the bottom rung of the ladder, yes.
“I’ve always ballooned up in weight, you saw me with the fat suit on, Ricky Fatton I was nicknamed but I’ve always got very, very depressed and it started round about the Mayweather fight but I’ve always liked to drink but you can’t drink, when you’ve got depression you feel all right for about an hour and then the more you do it, you just go worse and then the more and more you drink, the more depressed you get, the more you start worrying and you start looking towards other options such as drugs. I didn’t care who I was with, what I was doing, I didn’t care whether I lived or died and it is a very, very difficult thing. My family and my friends, my personal friends, were there and had to see me go through it and they were there helpless, seeing me crumble. I had a little girl, my little girl Millie, my second child, she come through and I think that was the best thing that happened to us because I held her in my hands and went, come on, get yourself together now and I have never looked back since.”
Watch the full interview with Ricky Hatton on The Clare Balding Show tomorrow from 8.00pm on BT Sport 2