Boxing legend Ricky Hatton was the main event – not for the first time – as the former world champion visited Galway city as special guest at a charity event held in Cooke’s Thatch Bar in aid of cystic fibrosis last week.
Cooke’s – one of Galway’s oldest thatched pubs dating back to the 1700’s – has recently been taken over by cousins Chris and Kenneth Corbett, with whom ‘the Hitman’ is very friendly through their time together in Tenerife.
Hatton often spends his free time on the island, where he owns a holiday home – and Chris and Kenneth used to run a pub in Tenerife where Hatton often called in for a chat and a pint.
With Chris and Kenneth having just opened their new pub, and having heard so much about Galway City from the cousins, Hatton saw it as the perfect opportunity to ‘kill two birds with the one stone,’ and make the trip to Galway.
“I always used to go in for a Guinness. We had common friends as well, and just hit it off. They always said they were from Galway, what a wonderful place it is, friendly town, real buzzing city – so I’ve got a few weeks off this summer from my gym, training my boys so I thought no better time to come down especially with them opening the bar.”
Hatton is one of the most decorated British boxers, winner of four world titles at two different weights, having fought two of the greatest boxers of all time in Floyd Mayweather Junior, and Manny Pacquiao, though he suffered defeat on both occasions.
For a lot of the greats, boxing is in their blood from the moment they’re born – but for Hatton, it was simply a case of trying it out, and falling in love.
“It’s just something I really took to from a young age. I did kickboxing first. I was better with my fists then with my feet and then I went to boxing. It basically went from there.”
“I was from a council estate. I was a little tear-away. I just wanted to go to the boxing club and fight. As I got used to it I enjoyed it more and from a little scallywag, it turned me in to, I’d like to think, a gentleman and that’s what boxing can do to people.”
Hatton turned pro aged 18 in 1997 and went on to accumulate a professional record of 45 wins (32 by knockout) and three defeats. He won world titles at both light-welterweight and welterweight but admitted that he found it extremely difficult competing as a welterweight.
“I wanted to try win world titles in different weight divisions like my heroes; so I moved up to welterweight, won the world title, but it was a struggle. In the end, I moved back down and then the challenge came to move up to welterweight again against Floyd Mayweather. If you get the chance to fight the best fighter on the planet even though it’s not your weight division, you’re going to do it aren’t you?”
But, despite holding his own for much of the fight, he eventually succumbed to his first pro defeat in the tenth round.
Two years prior in 2005, Hatton recorded his greatest win against Kostya Tsyzu to claim his first world title, the IBF light-welterweight title. Hatton described it as the highlight of his career.
“You could be a world champion but that doesn’t mean you’re the number one in your weight division there’s so many belts nowadays. Kostya Tsyzu was the number one in my weight division, number two pound for pound so that was probably my best win and it still goes down as one of the greatest ever wins in a British ring,” he said.
Before the Mayweather bout, Hatton had a 43-0 record. He lost three of his last five bouts but highlights his knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao as the toughest defeat of his career. Hatton was knocked out in the second round and subsequently went on to put his career on hold after the crushing defeat.
Today, he owns and runs his own gym where he trains and promotes fighters: “I train about nine boxers. I’m the only boxer I know of, British world champion that’s training a world champion. I train Zhanat Zhakiyanov from Kazakhstan who’s world bantamweight champion.”
While Hatton’s visit to Galway was a fleeting one, he has plans to come back in the future.
Chris Corbett expressed his delight at how the evening went and thanked everyone who has supported them since the opening of the bar.
“It was an absolutely brilliant night. Ricky was a gentleman. He entertained the locals with his boxing stories and was only happy to take pictures and sign autographs,” he said.