July 28, 2016
July 28, 2016
Ricky Hatton

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

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NINE fighters assembled at the Church Street Boxing Club in New York City, to work out for the members of the media. With three days to go before the big show at The Barclays Center, everyone had their game face on.

This is a strong card from top to bottom, with the attractive Sergey Rabchenko – Tony Harrison junior-middleweight match being perhaps the fifth most appealing matchup on the bill. Yet when Rabchenko arrived the media swarmed around him with the same intensity as it would later do for main eventers Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz. That is what happens when your trainer is more popular than you. As a point of comparison, Shane McGuigan an outstanding young trainer on the rise was virtually ignored when he stood next to  Frampton. Ricky Hatton is now retired as a fighter, but has not completely escaped the lure of the ring. He now promotes and trains boxers. The best of the lot is Rabchenko who he has been with for some time now.

Hatton sat next to Rabchenko hoping to field questions about him. After gently trying to steer Rabchenko into the conversation, Hatton threw in the proverbial towel. The focus was clearly on him the majority of the time. The Hit Man’s fights in the United States brought him crossover appeal and invokes warm memories of an outstanding career.

“Nothing compares to the buzz of fighting, but being a trainer is the next best thing. I don’t need to do it for a pay cheque,” said Hatton indicating he has taken good care of his ring earnings. “I think that Rabchenko can be a world champion and want to help him achieve his dreams. I can’t train fighters that I’m not fond of. I’ve known Sergey for a number of years. I have a feel for being in the corner with him.” As Hatton spoke, former opponent Paul Malignaggi who is boxing on the bill came over for a handshake. “Paulie was mouthy before we fought, but I would later learn that he was really a nice guy. It was one of my best performances,” he said of the man he halted in 11 rounds toward the end of his career.

Questions came in rapid form about Hatton’s predictions on the Frampton–Santa Cruz and Kell Brook-Gennady Golovkin fights. “Well you have to give Kell Brook credit. I hope I’m wrong, but Golovkin is what he is,” said Hatton, predicting who would win without coming right out and saying it. “Kell will have to use a lot of movement and stop him in his tracks, hopefully he can do it. Frampton’s fight with Santa Cruz is 50-50, one that could go either way. Carl will really have to dig deep at times.”

“Billy Graham was absolutely the perfect trainer” for me says Hatton when the conversation shifts back to his career, “but I learned from the others as well. I have a lot of experience for what I did right and wrong.”

Hatton and Rabchenko joked around in the ring as they got ready for the couple of rounds that the Belarus fighter would be doing on the pads. Rabchenko understands that being associated with Hatton will help get his name out there. “I thought that he should have gotten the decision,” said Hatton of Rabchenko’s loss to Anthony Mundine two years ago. To date it is the only loss Rabchenko has suffered. “Hopefully this time he takes it out of the judges’ hands on Saturday.” Hatton 45-3 (32) is an authority on that doing it two out of every three times he fought.

When Hatton’s name is announced to the crowd at The Barclays Center, a thunderous ovation is sure to follow. The fighter is retired, but Hatton wonderland remains.