Ricky Hatton Opinions


In an exclusive interview with Lord Ping, Man City fan and former light-welterweight boxing champion Ricky Hatton gave his opinions on:

  • Man City winning another Premier League title
  • His Player of the season
  • Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Uysk
  • Jake Paul v Mike Tyson

On Manchester City 

Another top, top season for City. Are you confident that you will win all of your remaining games and win your fourth consecutive title?  

City fans are pretty relaxed about winning the Premier League title – we’re getting a little bit cocky, but that shows you far we’ve come. I’m still devastated that we lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League. I thought we had a great chance of winning the lot.  

Real Madrid played a clever game, they got behind the ball. After City equalised, they were playing for penalties. For Real Madrid to do that. That tells you everything about where City are at the moment.  

I think we'll win all our games; we're absolutely flying at the minute. Tottenham away. That could be a sticky wicket for me. Our record at their place hasn’t been great – I know we beat them there in the FA Cup – so that makes me a little bit nervous.  

Who has been your player of the year and why?  

Kevin De Bruyne has had another great season. Erling Haaland hasn’t been as on the ball this season as he was last season, but to be honest with you, it was always going to be very difficult for him to repeat the season he had last year. He was scoring with practically every kick he was taking. It’s always difficult to maintain that level of performance, especially in the Premier League.  

We’re a more balanced team this season. We have quality players in every single department. Kevin De Bruyne has been my player of the season because since coming back from his injury, he has looked absolutely brilliant. He’s been in sensational form.  

What chance do you give your city rivals Manchester United of doing you a favour and taking some points of Arsenal on Sunday?  

Not for all the tea in China, to be honest with you. I don’t take the mickey out of my Man United friends because when City went down to the second division a few years ago, that was a terrible period for all of us (City fans). 

I didn’t see a way out of it. I thought it would take us forever and a day to come back to the Premier League. I know that’s not where United are at the moment, but with the success that they're used to, to be in the position that they're in now… I feel sorry for my Man United mates.  

I won't take the mickey out of them now because when you're a proper football fan it's not nice. They don't need Ricky Hatton rubbing it in, do they? 

On Manchester United 

I watched the Crystal Palace game and if you're a United fan, you'd feel like throwing in the towel. There’s no organisation, no passion, no desire. They need to figure out how to put things right.  

I know how the United fans are feeling. I feel sorry for them. I think they need to get rid of Erik ten Hag. People are saying, “who would you replace him with?” the answer is anyone at the minute! He's not doing the job, give someone else a go. I'd probably sack him and let Steve McClaren finish the last few games off. 

Steve McClaren has been there and done it. I thought it was interesting to hear from Michael Owen and Paul Scholes after the game, both of them said that McClaren can’t have any input because of how poorly Manchester United look coached. They rated McClaren as one of the best coaches they ever trained under.  

Get McClaren in for the last few games to give them a chance of finishing the season with a bit of pride.  

Will that sympathy be extended if you give them a real walloping in the FA Cup final? 

No, no, no, no. You have to respect your opponent. Listen, a Manchester derby in the FA Cup final, you would have to be an idiot to take them lightly. City fans, we've got to fancy ourselves in the FA Cup final with the way United are performing and the way we're performing. 

You never know what could happen. It’s a one-off game; a Manchester derby. I have no doubt United fans will be more nervous than we are. We’ll get an idea of where they’re at over the next few games. If they can beat Arsenal, who are absolutely flying, then that will give them a confidence boost going into the final. To be honest with you, I can’t see them beating Arsenal on Sunday. I think Arsenal will give them a bloody good hiding.  

On Fury vs Usyk 

In Tyson’s last fight, he was caught a little cold. Do you think that would have sharpened his focus?  

Fury’s focus would have absolutely been sharpened by what happened in his last fight against Francis Ngannou.  

With the success that Tyson has experienced in his career, I think he went into that fight a little bit complacent. It was a massive event with boxing royalty in attendance from past and present – every name under the sun was there – and I think the spectacle and the occasion was on his mind rather than doing a job in the ring.  

I know AJ knocked him out, but I think Francis Ngannou demonstrated in his fight with Tyson that he was a better fighter than we gave him credit for.  

Tyson didn’t take the fight seriously. He came in a little bit heavier than he normally would. What happened, happened, and I think that was the best thing that could have happened to him going into this fight with Usyk. It would have given him a kick up the arse, which is what he probably needed.  

I think he’ll win – I’m Team Fury. I'm right behind Tyson all the way.  He'll be on the ball this time. If you look at the shape he’s in, the way he’s talking about the fight – he’s dialled down a bit of the bravado – he’s taking this seriously.  

The only thing that worries me as his friend is we don’t know how much those fights with Wilder have taken out of him. When you look at the way Joe Parker dispatched Wilder, you could see the toll the Tyson fights had taken on him. Could there be too many miles on the clock? He’s had his bad times – he went up to 23 stone – and he lost all that weight to get back in shape. That would be my biggest concern for Tyson, we don’t know how much he has left in the tank.  

Have you heard any whispers from Tyson’s camp. How are they feeling ahead of the fight?  

Tyson will always be Tyson. You see the footage from camp, and the vibes look good. Confident. The Fury’s are loud aren’t they? That’s what we love about them. I love all of the Fury’s equally.  

You can tell that Tyson is on the ball. He’s got his weight down and looks in terrific shape. Everything looks positive.  

They won’t be taking Usyk lightly, he’s a special boxer, but I think the best version of Tyson Fury beats the best version of Oleksandr Usyk. That’s what me and everyone in the Fury camp will be hoping for.  

It’s a fight that has been long in the making. Do you think it will live up to the hype?  

I think it will live up to the hype; I think it'll be great. I think it will be a very interesting fight because Tyson has never fought anyone as small as Usyk before. That could be a bit of a concern because it will be a new experience for him.  

When he fought Wilder, he was able to stand there and have it out with him. It was the same with Dillian Whyte. He’s used to fighting these massive units and now he’s got a little whippersnapper in front of him who will be flying all over the place.  

The fact that he's smaller makes it more dangerous for Tyson, because Tyson has been able to bully the previous heavyweights he’s fought over the last few years. I think that's why Tyson has slimmed down a little bit. He knows he's going to need a little bit of speed in this fight.  

Tyson ticks all the boxes. He can box south paw; he can box orthodox. He's got speed, he's got great defence. I think he'll find a way. Tyson can do everything – he's a right box of tricks – but if anyone can hurt him, its Oleksandr Usyk.   

You mentioned there he's got so many different styles and we've seen him approach big fights in different ways before. How do you think Tyson will approach the fight?  

I think Tyson needs to get into the ring and see how the fight progresses. If I was in the corner, I'd just say keep it simple. Don’t get too giddy early on. Don’t be too adventurous. Usyk is an exceptional fighter, and he can hurt you.  

Get in the centre of the ring and keep Usyk moving with your size and your reach. Just keep it simple.  

Fury will have had 12 weeks to recover from that cut he suffered in training earlier in the year. Have you any concerns over that cut becoming a problem again on the night? It will surely be a big target for Usyk… 

It’s possible that Usyk may target the cut Tyson suffered, but it would have had enough time to heal. He would have had the best possible people looking at that injury to make sure that he’s recovering well. I’m not too concerned by it to be honest with you.  

Usyk might be looking to open it up. He could get lucky if it splits open again in the fight, so I think he’ll stick to his gameplan and, if the cut opens up, then that is a bonus for him.  

Worst case scenario and the cut opens and blood starts pouring out, I don’t think it would make much of a difference because so much is on the line. I can’t see the fight getting stopped because of it – Tyson’s eyeball would have to be hanging out for that to happen. Could you imagine the reaction from the crowd if the fight gets stopped? We’ve been waiting far too long for this for that to happen. 

I’m not concerned about the cut, I’m just delighted that the fight is finally happening.  

On Tyson Fury's Legacy 

We know about the rematch clause in the contract, and then there are all the whispers about Tyson and AJ finally getting it on, but if Tyson beats Usyk, then I don’t think anyone can question his legacy in the sport.  

At that stage of his career, after beating Usyk, what is there really for Tyson to prove? There is nothing more for Tyson to achieve. British boxing fans would love the AJ fight, but there are a few hurdles to overcome if it were to happen.  

If he beats Usyk, he will go down as the best British heavyweight in history. At that stage, I’d like to see my mate hang up the gloves and enjoy the fruits of his labour with his family. He’s worked so hard for his entire career; he’s overcome some huge obstacles. There’s nothing left to prove.  

I don’t want to see my mate continuing to fight and putting himself in environments where he might get hurt.  

If you go into a fight with a little cut and you know there's a chance it might open up, does that play on your mind as a fighter? 

I can only answer it from my perspective. It never bothered me to be honest with you. I had a great coach named Mick Williamson who got me through so many scrapes back in the day. I used to get caught in the same area and had a cut that was always reopening. It’s just something that you have to cope with.  

The cut is probably something new for Tyson. Tyson’s best attribute is his self-belief and his confidence. Even though he could have done without the cut, I don't think he's going to be sat on his settee worrying about it too much. If it does open, I think he's experienced enough that he'll be able to cope with it.  

In Usyk’s las fight with Daniel Dubois, we saw him struggle with some of those big body shots. Was too much made of that? Is that something that Fury is going to be looking at?  

I think Tyson and his team would be foolish no to look at it. We know all about Usyk’s ability as a fighter, but as quick as he can move that head, the body stays still. I think Tyson will be looking to capitalise on that. He won’t focus on the body specifically, but he’ll have an eye on it.  

Daniel Dubois is a giant of a man and Usyk struggled to deal with him at times. Tyson is also a giant, and if you’re a little bit smaller, the last thing you would want is a giant firing shots into your ribs. Tyson will have seen that and perhaps he will work the body a little bit more than he normally does.  

Body shots slow you down. If he needs to slow him down, then staying on the body is a good strategy. As the old saying goes, ones the body goes the head falls too.  

What would your message be to Tyson ahead of the fight?  

Get him into the middle of the ring and keep working him. I’d look at working the body – Tyson should fire some shots at the body to see how he reacts in the early rounds.  

He’s got the height and reach advantage. Tyson has all of the tools in his arsenal to win this fight.  

He needs to stay focussed, because if he takes his eye off the ball for a second and gets careless, Oleksandr has all the skills to hurt him. He needs to outbox him; slow him down and then put his foot down as the fight makes its way to the home straight. I can’t wait for the fight.  

How far do you think this fight will go?  

I think it'll be a boxing chess match. I don't see it being like the brilliant fights Tyson had with Wilder; those were wars. Both of them are intelligent boxers and I think this will be a smart fight. Neither fighter will want to give anything away.  

Whoever gets a little bit giddy; a little carless, will lose the fight. They're both masters technicians at the top of their game.  

Give us your prediction 

I expect Tyson to come out on top, but this fight will go deep into the rounds.  

On Anthony Joshua 

We've seen AJ come back on the comeback trail and he's had some big performances. He's brought Ben Davison in, who is someone that you know really really well.  How much of an impact do you think Davidson is having on AJ and can you see those guys kind of sticking together moving forward? 

I think Ben’s influence and approach to training is having a massive positive impact on AJ. He is the best possible person for AJ to have in his corner in my opinion. He’s a very technical trainer and I think it's just what AJ needed, to be honest with you. 

When I saw AJ fight Oleksandr Usyk and all of the shenanigans that followed him losing the fight, throwing his belts around and having a pop at the crowd; getting on the mic after the fight…I don’t think Ben would have let something like that happen.  

Ben is exactly what AJ needs. He’s an Olympic Gold medallist, two-time heavyweight champion of the world, so he’s a very clever fighter and I think having a coach like Davison, who is on the same wavelength as him, will be absolutely massive for him.  

You’ve got to be happy in yourself to be the best possible boxer. I didn’t see that in the last Usyk fight and I think his team let him down that night. I think I speak for all British fight fans when I say that was upsetting to see. It’s brilliant to see how he has responded from that disappointment.  

British fans will be incredibly proud of AJ and how he has turned it around.  

Yeah, definitely. I feel like there's a different kind of energy that's coming out of him at the moment. 

Ben will be helping with that, you know what I mean? Ben will be helping that all day long.  

I read a comment from him recently where he said he was happy to wait for the Fury fight. It seems like since that dip, he's had his comeback, and it has sharpened his focus. He seems a little bit humbler, but he also looks in peak condition.  

He looks like he's in a happy place, doesn't he? I mean, he's performing well, his attitude is good. Happy days.  

He is a very laid-back character, so to see him after the Usyk fight, having that little moment, that was very upsetting, to be honest with you. Boxing needs AJ to come back to his best form in order for the Tyson fight to be made and I think it could happen now. 

If it doesn't happen, boxing needs to take a long hard look at itself to be honest with you. Why has this not happened yet? The fighters always want the big fights to happen and, nine times out of ten, I would say it's problems in the background that prevent these bouts from happening. I’m not blaming the promoters, but getting it over the line is always a nightmare. I think I can speak for Tyson and AJ and say that this is a fight both men want before they call it a day. They don’t want to be sat in their homes in a few years’ time with regrets. 

The world has been waiting for about eight years for this fight, but for it to happen, Tyson needs to put in a performance against Usyk.  

On Jake Paul v Mike Tyson 

It’s just been made a professional fight. We've talked about influencer boxing in the past and the pros and the cons of it, but there's never been a fight between an absolute legend of the sport, even he is fifty-eight. What are your thoughts on this one? It feels like a bit of a freakshow to be honest with you.  

We have a saying in Manchester, and that is that this is a bit of a piss take. That is exactly where we are with this fight. It’s an absolute joke. I think it’s a complete shambles to be honest with you. Someone needs to have a word and try and stop it from happening.  

I’ve always said that the influencer fighting game is entertainment, and I’ve never really had an issue with influencer boxing; UFC fighters fighting boxers, YouTubers fighting rappers, whatever it is. If people want to watch it, then that’s fine. Let’s call it what it is, entertainment.  

There’s room for both boxing and influencer boxing as long as the big fights keep getting made. YouTubers fighting isn’t hurting the sport of boxing, boxing is hurting boxing because big fights aren’t happening.  

I don’t begrudge anyone making a few quid. Good luck to the likes of Tommy Fury, KSI, Jake Paul, whoever, but this fight is a complete fiasco. Someone needs to intervene and take it out of their hands. Money talks in the entertainment business, but come on!  

To be honest, Mike is looking good for his fifty-eight-years – I wouldn’t mind looking like him at that age – he looks explosive. Trust me, if he can hit Jake Paul on the chin, he’ll knock him into the middle of next week.  

I’ve seen Tyson on the pads, and he looks sharp, but he’s fifty-eight. Can he maintain it? At his age, your body isn’t conditioned to take the punishment that will be coming back to you. 

As for Jake Paul, if he were to knock him out, he’ll be knocking out one of his heroes. How could he live with that on his conscience? It doesn’t matter how much money is involved, how would you be able to look at yourself in the mirror?  

I think it’s completely crazy. It’s a joke. Nothing surprises me in the boxing and entertainment business. I don’t mind the influencers doing their thing, I don’t mind the exhibition fights when the matchups are even, but this one is on another level completely.  

Jake Paul, he's such an abrasive character, isn't he? He’s divisive. I think everybody would love to see Tyson knock him out. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, doubt, and he's very, very capable doing it. I’m just thinking to myself that there’s every chance Paul could knock him out because of the difference in age and nobody would want to see that. Who wants to see one of the all-time great fighters getting spanked as an old man? Nobody.  

I’m surprised that it’s been made into a professional fight. Someone should take it out of their hands.  

It’s like me fighting Sugar Ray Leonard now in my prime. Sugar Ray is one of my heroes, he would have killed me in the ring in his prime. You couldn’t give me all the money in the world to fight one of my heroes like that. There’s a big difference between fighting for money and fighting a champion, and I think everyone can see this for exactly what it is.  

Last one on this, Ricky. Do you reckon you would give Jake Paul a pasting if you had the chance? 

Well, he fights in a different weight to me, and has youth on his side, but yeah, I’d fancy I could still knock him out.  

On Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall 2 

There's obviously a bit of bad blood between those two guys. The first fight was controversially given Taylor, according to Catterall. Are you looking forward to fight? 

I think it should be quite a nice fight to watch; it’s certainly very interesting.  

I've known Jack for a good few years now. He's been in my gym, sparring with some of my boxers. He's a great kid and I was devastated for him (after he lost the first fight on a decision).  

There's no doubt he won that fight. Josh Taylor, he was training with Ben Davison in my gym, so I’ve seen him up close and I know how talented he is as a fighter too. He’s a lovely kid. I’m not speaking out of turn when I give my opinion on these two, but Jack definitely won the last fight.  

It was a devastating loss for him, not only from a sporting perspective but also from the point of view of his family. Holding all of the belts would have changed his and his family’s life from a financial point of view.  

Now he has the chance to put things right. You never know, the first fight could have been a one-off for Jack. It could have been one of them nights where you fight out of your skin and you box the fight of your life.  

I still see this as fifty-fifty fight. Jack showed what he is capable of in the last fight between the two of them. As talented as Jack is, I think he surprised a lot of people with his performance that evening. Now he has the chance to show that it wasn’t a one-off, but don’t be surprised if Taylor has the fight of his life either.  

I hope Jack does the business and gets his just rewards. It’s what he should have had in the first place because it was such a terrible decision (to award the fight to Taylor).  

When you're on the receiving end of a result like that, and it's obviously still in Jack’s mind, will that help him or hinder him in your opinion? 

I think it definitely helps you as a fighter. He’ll be using that sense of injustice as a motivating factor, but it will also sharpen the mind of Josh Taylor too. He will be more on the ball because of what happened last time.  

My advice to Jack would be, stick to your gameplan and listen to your corner. Don’t let emotions run into the fight because of the bad blood. Leave your emotions at the door. Go out there and do the job in the ring. If he can control his emotions, he’s got a great chance of winning.  

I think it will be a really close fight – it is a real toss of the coin this one. I’m looking forward to it.  


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Disclaimer: Opinion content is provided by experienced journalists and are not the views of Lord Ping



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