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Monday, April 27, 2009


They say life begins at 40, but for Ricky Hatton you can move that forward a decade.

At the age of 30 the Hitman is reborn as he prepares to fight for the biggest prize in boxing - the P4P title.

As Ricky counts down to the big Las Vegas showdown with Manny Pacquiao on May 2, he's in what he calls "perfect place". And the man who took him there - step forward Floyd Mayweather Sr.

When Hatton split with long-time trainer Billy Graham last year it was painful for both men.

But Hatton - stung by defeat against Floyd Mayweather Jr and a below-par showing against Juan Lazcano - knew something had to change.

Ricky felt he'd become predictable - a one-trick pony trying to run over his opponents with marauding aggression.

The change was made and in came Mayweather Sr - the self-proclaimed best trainer in the world.

He may be known for trash-talking and poetry, but he's clearly had a massive effect on Hatton. Out went the one-trick pony, in came a reinvigorated Hitman aiming to box as well as brawl.

He said: "That's why I opted to go with Floyd Mayweather. I knew I could fight. I needed to work on my defence, left jab, my head movement, my footwork, my combinations, my speed."

The Ricky/Floyd partnership paid instant dividends, bringing a highly impressive 11th-round stoppage of Paulie Malignaggi.

Hatton explained: "I think you saw the defence in the Malignaggi fight. Malignaggi was supposed to outspeed and outbox me. And I outjabbed and outspeeded Paulie Malignaggi. And that was after just seven weeks with my new training camp. There's only so much you can do in seven weeks. The way I performed in seven weeks was a credit to me and my team and shows just how much I've got left.

"Sometimes you need seven weeks just to get used to a new trainer. For the first two or three weeks I couldn't understand what Floyd was saying!"

Hatton has spent 12 weeks preparing for Pacquiao, and ring logic dictates that he should be even better after a full camp with big Floyd calling the shots.

"When you saw the improvement in seven weeks, we just scraped the barrel in how well I'm boxing now. I'm going to be even better this time," he said.

"The old Ricky Hatton will ultimately win me the fight - my marauding style, my strength and my aggression. I'm just doing it with a little bit more polish now.

"I'm my usual aggressive self but tidied up in certain areas. The Mayweather fight taught me to pull my socks up and stop thinking I could just run over people."

As well as providing knowledge and knowhow inside the ropes, Mayweather Sr has also made training camp fun again.; Fun Hatton said he hadn't enjoyed in a while.

He revealed: "The training is very hard but the training has to be fun. It's a long time since I've enjoyed my training camps. During the latter stages with my former trainer Billy Graham, training was becoming hard work due to Billy's health and his injuries.

"Training camp became pretty difficult because I was worried whether Billy was going to get through the training camps.

"Now we're working hard, working on new things - it's a laugh a minute. Sometimes you go into the gym, you just listen to Floyd for two hours and you lose two pounds laughing."

While Mayweather Sr may hog the headlines and play up to the cameras, he's not the only key man in camp Hatton.

British trainer Lee Beard is quietly helping put together the plan that might see Pacquiao dethroned as P4P king on May 2. And Hatton rates him highly.

"He's an exceptional trainer in his own right," he said.

"A great student of the game and a great tactician. Sometimes it's good to have trainers. Sometimes when you're outside the ropes and not in the heat of the action you can see things more clearly. So it's nice to have the best of both worlds."

Hatton says much of the work Beard has been doing in training won't be noticed be the outside world, for very good reason.

"Every day I've been doing southpaw pads with Lee Beard - you won't see that on 24/7 because obviously we don't want to show anything we're working on style wise and tactics wise.

"But to be honest anybody working with Floyd Mayweather is going to be kept in the background. If you can't see him you can hear him.

"But I feel I've got two world-class coaches. Anyone who has seen Lee Beard in action will know that he's just as important a part of the team as anyone.

"I think Lee is a world-class coach in his own right, and certainly in the making. We've been working on certain moves. Manny's strengths are certain shots and his weaknesses are certain areas. We've been working on certain moves and combinations from a southpaw stance that nobody has seen on 24/7. We don't want to show everything and tip our hat too much, but Lee has been a very important part of the camp."


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