Return of the Manc
The Panel - Messrs Watt, Nelson, McCrory, Piper and Smith - on why Ricky Hatton is still at the top of boxing.
Last Updated: 19/04/09 10:54am
Ricky Hatton is back fighting for pound-for-pound glory again, this time against current number one, Manny Pacquiao.
It is a match that has had the world of boxing talking ever since it was made and is live and exclusive on Sky Box Office and Sky Box Office HD.
Jim Watt, Glenn McCrory, Johnny Nelson, Nicky Piper and Adam Smith - The Panel - will be on duty come fight night but first, we have put a few questions to the best pundits in the business...
SKYSPORTS.COM: When, 17 months ago, Ricky Hatton was laid flat on his back in the same MGM Grand ring, having been outclassed by Floyd Mayweather, did you ever think we'd be back here talking about him fighting for the pound-for-pound title again?
NICKY PIPER: I didn't actually, no. I thought Ricky would have had enough. I know he's always wanted to be number one in the world, but it was such a decisive defeat by Mayweather and he put so much into it. I thought that might have been too much too take and I just couldn't see him getting back up there, certainly as long as Mayweather was still around. But two things have to be taken into account. One is obviously Mayweather retiring, the other is Ricky's determination and love for the game. He is such a character but he loves this sport and he truly does want to go down as a boxing legend. He lives his live to the full out of the ring, but the one thing you cannot question is is 100 per cent commitment in it.
GLENN McCRORY: Nicky's right, it's a measure of how hard he works. His lifestyle can be wild but when it comes to training and getting down to business, he is a true professional. He deserves this opportunity and you just can't put it down to luck. He is lucky in as much as everyone wants to fight him, he's the superstar, the big box office. He's the one that brings 16,000 across the Atlantic. Ricky brings so much to the table in the ring and in terms of popularity, nobody deserves it more.
JOHNNY NELSON: You have to say first and foremost it is his style of fighting that has got him back here. Yes, he sells tickets and is a massive pull in America and America loves him, but that is down to the way he fights. He is always in exciting fights and although I do think he will need to be at his explosive best I do think this will be a cracking fight regardless of the outcome. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather was pointless. He might do a better job second time round but I really did think he had boxed his way out of those sort of circles. But here he is again, boxing Pacquiao in what could easily be the biggest fight of the year.
ADAM SMITH: was never convinced he was going to beat Floyd Mayweather - but he gave it a real go and there is certainly no disgrace in losing to him. But he could've gone two ways he could've come back, had a couple of easier fights back in Britain and swanned off into the sunset with Kostya Tszyu as his defining fight. But knowing Ricky and his love for the sport and his fans - who he felt he let down so badly - you felt he could come back for another crack. But I probably didn't think he would fight for the pound-for-pound title if I'm honest. But following Oscar de la Hoya's retirement there is a hole in the sport to sell out arenas and attract the casual fan - and Ricky can do that. Not just because because he is a down-to-earth guy that fans can associate with, but because he's a very good boxer.
JIM WATT: For all the time we spend analysing and assessing Ricky Hatton, it's easy to forget that after all he is a two-weight world champion and has won plenty of world titles down the years. He's easily the best at 10 stone in the world, so you can't say he just sells tickets. Blimey, you cannot point at Ricky Hatton and say he doesn't deserve another fight of this stature. He's avoided no-one at light-welterweight and anybody who is not impressed by him and what he's done in the game - and for boxing - does not want to be impressed, I can tell you. Ricky has lucky in one respect: his showing against Paulie Malignaggi came at just the right time for this. In pretty much the same week as Pacquiao did what he did to de la Hoya, Ricky produced arguably his best performance since Tszyu. It was the perfect time and it has set this up very nicely indeed.
The Panel will be back with another series of answers in a few days. In the meantime let us know what YOU think makes Hatton so special, or what you make of their answers, by filling in the feedback form below...