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World Champion Boxer Ricky Hatton on CNN’s "Talk Asia"
Ricky Hatton interviewed by CNN’s Monita Rajpal in the ring

CNN’s Monita Rajpal gets in the ring with one of Britain’s most celebrated former boxers, Ricky Hatton, on ‘Talk Asia’. The World Champion opens up about his heartbreaking defeat against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, his fight with depression that followed, and how he found his way back from the “depths of darkness.”

The 34-year old also talks about why he chose to challenge the former world champion, Vyacheslav Senchenko, for his comeback fight after a three year hiatus, his new role as a boxing trainer and promoter, and his hopes of finding talent in Asia.

Full Transcript:


MONITA RAJPAL, ANCHOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL (voiceover): He's known to his fans as "The Hitman" and is widely recognized as one of Britain's all time boxing greats. Of his 48 career fights, he's won 45, knocked out 32 opponents, and has been recognized by several boxing authorities as a world champion in two weight classes.

But his defeats, though few, were as notable as his achievements. In 2007, Floyd Mayweather Jr. crushed the Mancunian's winning streak in Las Vegas and, just two years later, Philippine hero, Manny Pacquiao, knocked Ricky Hatton and his professional boxing career to the floor.

Even out of the ring, Hatton made headlines with British press publicizing his battle with drink, drugs, and depression. But in 2012, after three years out of the ring, Hatton returned, and was defeated for the final time.

RICKY HATTON, FORMER WORLD CHAMPION BOXER: The top and bottom of it is today, you know, I need to find out whether I still have it. And I haven't.

RAJPAL (voiceover): Now, outside the ring, Hatton is putting on some new gloves, teaching the next generation of professional boxers and promoting the sport in China. This week, on "Talk Asia", we're in the ring with Ricky Hatton in Hong Kong and discover where he found the strength to fight his biggest battle yet.


RAJPAL: Welcome to "Talk Asia". We appreciate you joining us here, in the ring, to talk. First of all, tell me about "Road to Glory".

HATTON: You know, boxing has always been a passion for me. When you look at Asia - there's so many people out here. And there must be some talent somewhere. And that's what we're here for - to raise the profile in Asia. And I will be the one to bring it out.

RAJPAL: How does it change the way you think now? Because initially, before, you were boxing mode. You were training, you're fighting, yourself. And you're looking at your opponent. Now you're looking at it from a mentor perspective and a promoter perspective. What does that do to your mindset?

HATTON: It's a passion for me, boxing. You know, I mean, you know, when I achieve what I did at boxing, I could have packed up and just done me own thing. But I want to - I've got a huge amount of boost from seeing, you know, the lads that, you know, that we're working with. And giving a little bit back to the sport that I was very, very fortunate, you know, to try. But you know, so it's a massive, massive passion for me. And I didn't, you know, I didn't just want to be, you know, locally n my hometown. You know, I wanted to go global.

RAJPAL: What has boxing given you?

HATTON: Well boxing has given me, you know - and my family, for that matter - the best life I could ever, you know, imagine. And I was very, very fortunate to win awards at them. And I shouldn't really keep that to myself, you know.


HATTON: I want to share it with, you know, with, like, the global boxing public, I guess.

RAJPAL: What did you learn about yourself, as a boxer?

HATTON: Well, you know, boxing is like a way to be successful, you know. To be, you know, how many success stories have come out from boxing? There's so many people who have happened down the wrong road or gone down the wrong path. You know, and that life has, you know, turn badly. And boxing can, like, change your life, you know, really, in many ways.

RAJPAL: It can change your life in a good way? But can also affect your life in a difficult way, too.

HATTON: No, I cannot say I was really changed. I went in a difficult way. You know, I just - you see so many people, you know, that have gone down the wrong path. Obviously there's, you know, kids, you know - a different outlook on life. And I can't see how boxing can be a bad thing. One of my friends just recently said he'd pick it up.


HATTON: You know, he was a world-famous cricketer and he went to boxing. And you know, there's so many people that don't have the courage to actually get in the ring and do boxing. You know, and these, you know - whether you have one fight, whether you have 101 fights - it makes you a better person, you know. Because you got to anticipate and respect for the opponent. It keeps you healthy, it keeps you strong. And there's nothing really bad about boxing from my point of view.

RAJPAL: It's a sport that requires a lot of discipline. Everything from when you're in the ring itself, in terms of how precise your moves need to be. But also outside of the ring as well, right? In terms of how much training you need to get. Tell me about the training process that is required for a boxer.

HATTON: I find the best way I could probably describe boxing is a little bit like a game of chess. You know, I mean, a game plan in a fight can change, you know. And it's not just about being the strongest wins. Boxing isn't really about that. You know, the tactics can change, you know, so much, you know, when the fight goes on. There's a lot more into it, you know, than what people first think.

RAJPAL: What do you think was the strength that you brought in - or your strengths in the ring?

HATTON: I was always able to beat people that were technically better than me because I've such a big a big heart and such a will to live. You know, and I was able to, you know, to accomplish all me goals. And I don't think people realize how much courage - you know, there must be millions of people out there that have never got the courage, you know, to actually get in the ring and do it. You know, so they say whether you have one fight, whether you have 101 fights, you know - to get in that boxing ring takes a huge amount of courage.


RAJPAL: OK, Hatton, I've got my eye on you.

HATTON: Why does everyone want to hit me?

RAJPAL: No, no, no. Just not the face.


RAJPAL: OK? This is the moneymaker. OK. So what are the best tips that you can give a young fighter?

HATTON: I was always aggressive, as a fighter and I think the best note — the main thing to say about boxing is to hit and not get hit.


HATTON: Now you are in trouble.

RAJPAL: I know.

HATTON: The main thing is, for boxing, you know, when you look at the way you're stood now, you're straight on, so you've got a lot of body to aim at.


HATTON: So what you do is you stand side-on. And the best, most important point of any boxing is the jab - the left jab.

RAJPAL: The left jab?

HATTON: The left jab. I mean, you always just jab with your weak hand.


HATTON: So, obviously, you're right handed.


HATTON: So obviously, you know, you jab with your weak hand. So you jab, you jab like that, like that. That's generally - it's like opening and trying to keep the door - essential tactic, really. And now, you know, with your stronger hand, you'll jab, you'll jab. And you'll bamboozle them, I think -


HATTON: — with that and now's the old right.

RAJPAL: Oh, like that?

HATTON: Yes. And then you go right cross.


HATTON: You know, so - and that's generally what, you know -


HATTON: You know, so you'll jab, you'll jab, you'll jab, you'll jab, your right cross. Then you'll jab, you'll jab, you'll jab, and then you'll block.


HATTON: And then you'll, you know, there, you know?

RAJPAL: I had a big brother. I had to get used to that.

HATTON: Well don't worry, I won't hit you hard.


HATTON: You jab, jab, jab, bam, jab, jab, now block. Jab, jab, jab, bam, jab, jab, jab, block up. Jab, jab, jab.


HATTON: Fairly good. I've had - thank the lord at the time.



HATTON: Then, when I get up in the morning, I was suicidal. You know, me girlfriend was - three in the morning, waking up with a kitchen knife to me wrist.




HATTON: I think the greatest night of me boxing life, the great, because it would be Manchester. And it was at the Manchester Arena, two o'clock in the morning - 20,000 people at two o'clock in the morning. I was like a greyhound down at the tracks. First two rounds - I think I won the first two rounds by a country mile. But then rounds three, four, five, six, seven - because you like set into like a little bit of a rhythm.

And he was putting rounds in the bank, and I said to me trainer, Billy, after about maybe six or seven rounds. I said, "Billy", I said, "The fight's running away from me. The fight's running away from me. You know, I can't close the distance. He's picking me off and he's putting rounds in the bank". He said, "Listen Ricky, Kostya has never worked at this high a tempo. If you keep on at him, and on at him, and on at him, and on at him, he'll eventually break". I said, "Don't tell, Bill". I said, "How am I doing, anyway?" He said, "You're doing great, he's not lain a glove on you. So keep an eye on the referee. Someone's knocking for me".


RAJPAL: I want to read some names out for you and I want you to tell me what comes to your mind first, OK? Kostya Tszyu.

HATTON: Well, Kostya Tszyu is probably the - will always be, probably the greatest fight of me boxing life. You know, you can win a world-title nowadays. And even if you win a world title, it doesn't necessarily mean you're the best in the division. There's probably four or five different world titles now. But Kostya Tszyu is probably the best in the weight division. One of the best pound-for-pound in boxing. And everyone expected me to get a bit of a kicking against Kostya Tszyu. And, you know, but I believed in myself. You know, I believed I could do it.

RAJPAL: Floyd Mayweather Jr. What does that name mean to you?

HATTON: It was very, very hard to come to terms with getting beat by Floyd Mayweather. Because, you know, it was the first time I got beat. It was the first time I got knocked out. And it was really a bit heart breaking. But, you know, as you go on through your life, I'm very, very proud to say I shared the ring with him. I mean, what a - you always say that, you know, the best part about boxing is to hit and not get hit. And you could not hit Floyd Mayweather. You know, you lose a bar of soap in the bath - that's how difficult it was to actually land a punch on the fellow.

RAJPAL: That was, some would say, well, your first major defeat. But it was such a defeat in that, when you're fighting someone of such a high caliber, you could either look at it as a defeat, or you could look at it as you worked hard and you fought someone -

HATTON: You know, when I went through so many tools, you know, because I wasn't just grateful for boxing someone like Floyd Mayweather. I genuinely thought I was going to win. And when I didn't win, my life - it spiraled out of control. And it's, you know, there's a part of me like that, you know. With so much success that I've enjoyed.

I mean, most people - I think the best compliment Floyd Mayweather could actually give me was, after the fight he said to me, "Well, Ricky". He said, "Normally people, when they think the fight's running away, they try and match the distance and they just keep out of the way. But as long as you was in there, you tried to knock me out". And I saw that as a huge, huge compliment, to be honest with you. You know, I mean, it's very, very easy for someone to say, "Well, it's not going the way I thought, I'll just duck and dive and try to see the final bell".


HATTON: You know, as long as there was air in my lungs, I wanted to try and knock Floyd out. And he, you know, he acknowledged that and I felt quite proud of it.

RAJPAL: Even though, through the acknowledgement, you had the bad time afterwards. It's difficult for anyone to have to deal with a defeat on any scale, but when you're out in the public eye — how hard was that for you?

HATTON: I didn't box Floyd Mayweather in the sense that, you know, I'm just grateful for boxing Floyd Mayweather, I genuinely thought I was going to win. And when I didn't win, you know, it was really, really heartbreaking.

RAJPAL: Tell me about that time.

HATTON: It was probably the worst moment in my life. I suffered massively from depression ever since. And when depression sort of like starts up, probably about the size of a one-pence piece. And then, when the more some things get, you know, get bad for you - it gets worse and worse and worse. And it just escalates. And my, well, my life really run out of control. You know, every day when I get up in the morning, I was suicidal. You know, me girlfriend was - three in the morning, waking up with a kitchen knife to me wrists. It was really, heartbreaking.

But you know, when I come back and come out the other end and it's all over now - I like to think I can be a bit of an inspiration to people.

RAJPAL: Take me back to 2009. That was a pivotal year for you. Manny Pacquiao?

HATTON: Manny Pacquiao is probably a bit of a touchy subject for me, because I don't think he beat me at your best-at my best, I should say. He was an eight-time world champion. But just the thought that I actually shared the ring with him, you know, makes me feel quite proud, you know. But I, you know, when I boxed Manny Pacquiao, my training camp wasn't really the best and I don't think he beat me at me best.

RAJPAL: Your comeback fight against Senchenko. What does he mean to you?

HATTON: I'm a boxing promoter, now and I'm a boxing trainer and I've got a bit more of a spring in my step. And then, you know, it led to a sort of comeback. And it was more than a boxing match, my comeback, it was more of a, you know, a life changing, you know, type thing. You know, because I had so many personal problems away from boxing. You know, and it was the best thing I ever did. You know, the only difference is that you can't take the clock back three years, you know, sadly.

And, well you know, I did well, got myself in shape. I lost four and a half stones in bodyweight, which, you know, is about 60 pounds in weight. And then picked a former world champion. And even though it ended in defeat, I think a lot of people will say, "Well, fair play to you, Ricky". You know, and that's basically what the comeback was for me.

RAJPAL: How did you do it?

HATTON: Well, you know, normally people - they say, "What was it? What moment, you know, changed your life, and what made yours?" And it was a number of things, to be honest. You know, I became a dad for the second time. I have a little baby girl. Millie, who's 14 months. You know, and I held her in me arms and I thought to myself, you know, "I want you to be proud of me. I want you to say good things about your dad". And unfortunately, you know, my career was - I was thins person that everyone looked up to and they were so proud of. And then all of a sudden, I went to the opposite, if you like, and I - you know, I didn't want to wake up in the years gone by and me kids go, you know, "Well, me daddy, he did this he did that". I want people to be proud of me.


HATTON: The Floyd Mayweather fight - 30,000 went over to Las Vegas. And to be honest, if 30,000 went over to watch England - the World Cup, you know - it would be a sensational achievement.





RAJPAL: You are loved and admired and supported by the people in your hometown, where you live and hide and Manchester as a whole. And, again, globally as well. How important is that support and that approval to you? Or is it a weight on your shoulders?

HATTON: You know, because, I mean, I worked hard. You know, and then the hardest game of all to be successful. And I like to think I've remained humble. You know, I just go to the local supermarket in West ManchesterCity and they stand with the fans. And I call in the boxing program with the rest of the guys. And it's been rarity in many ways, you know. So I feel - I think they're very proud. I think when people look at me when I box, I don't think they see me as a British boxing personality. Like, I think they see me as one of the mates, you know, because they can relate to me.

RAJPAL: How important is that to you - to be seen as a mate?

HATTON: I means everything to me. It's probably my - everyone says to me, you know, "What was your greatest achievement in boxing?" And I say, "Well, most people would say well, it was when I beat this guy or when I boxed Floyd Mayweather or when I beat Kostya Tszyu. For me, it was the following that I was able to generate. It really was - I'm not saying I'm the greatest British that had ever been, but I don't think anybody has ever had a fan base or a following, you know, like me.

For the Floyd Mayweather fight, 30,000 went over to Las Vegas and, to be honest, if 30,000 went over to watch England in the World Cup, you know, it would be a sensational achievement. But to watch one man fighting was pretty unbelievable.

RAJPAL: Your son has said to want to follow in your footsteps. How does that make you feel?

HATTON: I'd much rather him play football for Manchester City. But, you know, I mean, when I look at my life, you know, what boxing did for me changed me life in so many ways, you know. So, when he says, "Dad, I wants to box", I can't really, you know, — you know, it did alright for his dad, you know. But I mean, I don't think any parent would like to see their kids getting punched.

You know, it's a wonderful sport, you know, and doesn't matter if you have one fight or 101 fights, the discipline and the respect that you get from boxing is, you know, is second to none. And when my son says, "I want to give it a go". Yes, of course I wouldn't like to see him getting punched, but you know he could be in a lot worse professions.

RAJPAL: How has this journey been for your family? The highs and the lows?

HATTON: Well, you know, when you see me get knocked down like you did against Manny Pacquiao - you wouldn't wish that on anybody. You know, it was really, real heart breaking. You know, for someone you love to be, you know, knocked out in such a manner. You know, it's very, very, very hard. But you are what you - you know, in life, everything happens for a reason and I can get positives from that now, you know. I mean, I spent so many time, you know, feeling sorry for myself. "Oh, I wish that I'd done I'd have done that". But, you know, now I can look at that fine. I can take positives out of it, you know.

RAJPAL: What was your goal when you first started out as a young fighter and what's your goal today?

HATTON: Well, me goal as a young fighter was to be a world champion. And, you know, and I was happy being a British champion. So when I won the World Title, it was a dream come true and I was very, very fortunate. I've come to [UNCLEAR], I won four World Titles in two weight divisions. You know, I always still consider myself as the lad from the council estate, you know. And when you see your name up in lights in Las Vegas, you know, it really is, you know, pinch yourself type thing.

But you know I like to think I was a success and I'd like to think, you know, the working class people from the council estates can look at me and say, "Well, you know, if Ricky Hatton can do it, I can do it". And that's basically it in a nutshell, yes?

RAJPAL: Are champion fighters born? Or do you think they're made?

HATTON: I think they're born. You know, I mean, I was very, very grateful that I was given a talent, you know, and able to, you know, to do what I did. What, you know - talent is only, you know, one little small component in the big picture of what becoming a world champion is. And being a trainer now, you know, it's - you know, there's no point in having all the talent in the world, you know, if you can't set your alarm clock in the morning to go running or you can't, you know - if you can't walk past the subway. And I would love to pass on to some youngster and say, "Listen, have a little bit of what I got".

RAJPAL: Who have you got your eye on? The young talent.

HATTON: Well, there's the - I'm a boxing promoter and I have several, you know, fighters that are champions, you know, from British championship level to European to world championship level. But the young lad from Manchester called Scott Quigg. And he'll be the interim world - British champion. He's from a place called Bury, but he just now is going to Manchester. And there's so much, you know, I look at him and I see myself in him. You know, he - he's a nice guy, he's down to earth. He's [UNCLEAR]. He's close to his family. He's close to his community. And that's, you know, what boxing is all about, to be honest with you.

RAJPAL: And that's goal for you? To be also seen as someone that is able to inspire?

HATTON: Yes. You know, absolutely. When I made a comeback, I am very proud to say that it wasn't really just a boxing story. It was more of a, you know, a life, you know, story. Because I suffer from depression. I had suicidal thoughts. I had all this - this problem with my hearing. You know, to be involved in boxing - it's the hardest game in the world, but, you know, when you've had the problems that I had - to come back in that light. My comeback was a win-win for me.

RAJPAL: Mr. Hatton, it's been a pleasure.

HATTON: My pleasure.

RAJPAL: Thank you so much for joining us.




- Ends -

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