Ricky Hatton Reveals Why He Had To Let Billy Graham Go

By James Slater: As fight fans know, Ricky Hatton's long-time trainer Billy "The Preacher" Graham is no longer an active member of Team-Hatton. The split came a few days ago, and initially it was reported that Graham had simply decided to retire. Then "The Preacher" said, no, he'd actually been fired, much to his displeasure. Now, in an interview with U.K newspaper The News of The World, the fighter himself gives his take on what happened..

The news makes for interesting reading, too. Ricky spoke about how Graham's body was "falling apart" and how it would have been unfair to force him to participate in any more gruelling training sessions. It is common knowledge that Graham used to have to inject himself with anti-inflammatory drugs because of the problems he has with his arms and elbow joints. This, Hatton says, could not go on any longer.

"We had a meeting," Ricky told The News of The World. "and I said, 'Billy, you're falling to bits. You admitted on T.V that you're physically beaten and told me you can't even swim with your daughter.' The work has got harder for Billy over the years and he has been a bit slower. That is not his fault, but he is in his 50's and can't do what he could at 33 or 43. I love Billy, but can't have a trainer who has admitted umpteen times that he is physically beaten. How can I expect him to be okay for the next 12 weeks while I'm preparing to fight [Paul] Malignaggi?"

Hatton makes some good and valid points that are hard to argue with. Most telling are the comments Ricky makes that underline his concerns that his own performances may be compromised by having Graham training him in the condition's he's in.

"How do I know how hard or correctly I'm punching when he had needles and cannot feel his hands when we're on the pads?," Hatton asked. "He might say, 'You're hitting hard' but I would be thinking, 'How do you know? You can't feel your hands.' If he thinks anything of me he'll have a good look in the mirror and admit, 'I'm falling to bits. I'm physically done.'"

"I don't want to hear from my trainer, 'Don't worry, Rick, I'll get through this training session.' It is me who has to get through sessions because I'm the one taking the punches [in fights]. Maybe I should've realised Billy was struggling a couple of fights ago, but I've put it off and put it off. Billy thinks other people have conspired for him to leave, but I am the boss and make the final decisions."

It's good that Hatton has finally given his take on the split, and it is to be hoped the two men, who had such a great partnership, can remain friends.

Article posted on 10.08.2008

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