The Forgotten Hatton

By Shaun Murphy: If you’re British, boxing fan or not, you’ll know who Ricky Hatton is.

From the ’Hitman’s’’ escapades in the ring; Hatton’s self-deprecating humor; to his love of beer and collecting things -- Ricky Hatton is the most popular British boxer in modern history..

However, all through Ricky Hatton’s career a fighter has marinated in his shadow. Matthew Hatton is a talented welterweight, teak tough and later this year he’s about to embark on the biggest challenge of his life. This man is Ricky Hatton’s brother.

Matthew Hatton’s a Good Fighter in his own Right

Whenever ‘’Magic’’ Matthew Hatton’s interviewed; he is often asked more about his brother than himself. Obviously, as Ricky Hatton’s such a huge star, the interviewer uses the opportunity to discover parts of the ‘’Hitman’s’’ life that only a close family member would know. 

From what I’ve seen, ‘’Magic Hatton is a non-egotistical type of person and I suspect being overshadowed by his sibling hasn’t manifested as the resentment that it would for some. However, the ‘’other’’ Hatton has offered a reason for being the family underachiever: lack of experience.

Matthew Hatton, two-and-a-half-years younger than his famous sibling, didn’t start boxing until he was 18.  In stark contrast, when Ricky Hatton hit his 18th birthday he’d already served a lengthy boxing apprenticeship, and was about to embark on a promising career as a professional. Unsurprisingly, when Matthew Hatton turned pro at the age of 22 the learning curve had to be absorbed without the luxury of a childhood in the amateurs and, although Mathew won the National Novice Championships, his lack of amateur experience was a big disadvantage.

The Other Hatton’s got Talent Too

Strangely, it seems, whenever Ricky Hatton is interviewed, whenever an opportunity arises he propagates his brother as a real good fighter. Suspecting family loyalty, every time the elder Hatton talked of his sibling’s strength, stamina and natural ability I assumed the stories were just that, a fiction derived from ‘’The Hitman’s’’ attempt at soothing his brother’s sense of inferiority. But now, after ‘’Magic’’ Matthew Hatton’s string of impressive wins, I believe the stories and if he beats his next opponent; he’s one step closer to becoming a ‘’world’’ champion and becoming a recognized fighter in his own right.
As, perhaps, I’ve explained, Mathew Hatton’s progress was bound to be slow in the paid ranks because he lacked experience. Nevertheless, fortuitously for the younger Hatton, the ‘’Magic’’ man was accepted under the wing of Ricky Hatton’s training headquarters, and by bathing in the world-class atmosphere, years on, the result is a highly competent fighter.

At the incipient of ‘’Magic’’ Hatton’s career he looked capable of only domestic level success; but the iron-jawed Englishman has achieved a spate of wins that have fulfilled his older brother’s claims of him being underrated.
Matthew Hatton lost his first major contest against the extremely tough Alan Bosworth, in a British title eliminator and, sadly, got disqualified in the 10th rd.

Secondly, six fights later, Hatton faced the massive punching Craig Watson for the Commonwealth title and lost by UD [incidentally, Watson put Amir Khan down as an amateur].

After losing to Watson, the boxing public besmirched Mathew Hatton as a sorry second to his brother [I’m not, believe me, under any kind of medication that makes me believe Matthew Hatton equals his brother in ability].

 Nevertheless, after the Watson debacle, ‘’Magic’’ Hatton was matched with the formerly world-class Ben Tackie.  Although Tackie has faded, he’s been in with a plethora of top fighters like Kostya Tszyu, Sharmba Mitchell and even Mathew’s own brother. The Ghanaian’s pretty good and owns a jaw harder than the hardest of granite -- then harder – so Matthew Hatton comprehensively outboxing him was an impressive result [although Tackie isn’t as good as he was!]. This fight was on the same card as the older Hatton stopping the effervescent Pauli Malignaggi in the 11th rd and, signified at the higher levels, Mathew Hatton has more ability than the domestic label the mass have tried to laden on his shoulder.

If I wanted to joke I would say ‘’Magic’’ Matthew Hatton’s victory over Ted Bami was in a world title eliminator.  Then again, I’d also, in the next sentence, claim that Richard Hersisa [the guy who Audley Harrison won his first ‘’world’’ title off] was the best ever European heavyweight. Of course, in the grand scheme, Mathew Hatton’s TKO victory in the 6th rd means nothing. But then, if you analyze the Born-Again-Christian Ted Bami you’ll see the man who wanted to be his native Congo’s first world light-welterweight champion was a good fighter and, it indicates, by stopping the African tough guy Mathew is a late bloomer. And in my view, he might surprise a few people.

I think, in life, I may have a gift. Maybe I’m a natural [for instance, I KNEW Khan would beat Barrera] but I can usually tell what a fighter is going to end up achieving. Some guys, I can’t explain in words, they have an attitude that won’t allow them not to succeed regardless of how good or bad they are. To these men, getting up in the morning, without fail, and doing 7-sickening miles of running is just part of the business. Quitting’s not an option, and they’re so strong mentally, no obstacle is too big to overcome. Maybe it’s the psychology of feeling boxing success is in his DNA, but ever since Matthew Hatton turned pro I’ve had a feeling he’s going to do something that’ll surprise a lot people. It’s a long way off [19th of September, 2009], but when ‘’Magic’’ Mathew Hatton fights the idiosyncratic Zab Judah, I think he’ll beat him. And, even more crazy, something tells me another ‘’world’’ title may find a home into the Hatton family’s list of achievements [if Hatton chooses a weaker champion after the victory!]. After all, deep down, Mathew Hatton probably needs to earn his brother’s respect. And that can really drive you…

Article posted on 01.07.2009

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