Nicknamed "The Hitman," Ricky Hatton's brutish, crowd-pleasing fighting style and jovial nature made him one of the most beloved fighters in British boxing history. He was and still remains a man of the people.
Hatton's meteoric rise began in 2000 when he won the British Jr Welterweight title by defeating Jon Thaxton. In the following year, he claimed the lightly-regarded WBU Jr Welterweight title and made 15 successful title defenses, posting wins over formidable opponents such as Vince Phillips, Ben Tackie and Ray Oliveira along the way.
Hatton's career breakthrough moment took place in 2005 when he met IBF Jr Welterweight Champion and Top 10 pound-for-pound sensation Kostya Tszyu in front of his roaring fans in Manchester. The little 5'7" "Hitman" absorbed Tszyu's best shots and dished out some heavy punishment of his own, forcing the future Hall of Famer to quit on his stool at the end of the 11th round.
As a result of Ricky Hatton's ring accomplishments and overall impact on boxing, the lad from Manchester was awarded The RING's prestigious 2005 'Fighter of the Year' honor.
Over the next two years, Hatton would defeat tough guys Carlos Maussa, Luis Collazo (WBA Welterweight title), Juan Urango (IBF Light-Welterweight title) and Jose Luis Castillo (IBO Light-Welterweight title) before being knocked out by Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2007 in Las Vegas.
A true testament to Ricky's popularity, thousands of spirited British fans travelled to Las Vegas to support their hero and faithfully stood by him in defeat.
After suffering his first loss to "Money May," Hatton rebounded in 2008 earning a points victory over a tough Juan Lazcano in front of over 50,000 adoring hometown fans in Manchester. And six months later, the British slugger would travel to the U.S. again and deliver an impressive performance against Paul Malignaggi (then 25-1), stopping the speedy American in the eleventh.
Courtesy of Snowmanradio
The 'Hatton Express' was back but the cheers were short-lived. Seven months after defeating Malignaggi, Ricky Hatton would suffer a brutal second round knockout loss to then top pound-for-pound phenom Manny Pacquiao.
After being stream-rolled by "PacMan," the "Hitman's" desire to box again seemed to wane. He put his career on a two year hiatus and launched his own boxing promotion company before officially retiring as a fighter on 7 July 2011.
But now, the retired slugger some have coined "Ricky Fatton" for his astounding weight gains between bouts is allegedly dieting and getting fit for what might be another ring run.
Although the 33 year old Hatton hasn't announced his intention to return, he's already been issued a challenge by former foe, Paul Malignaggi.
The WBA Welterweight Champion, fresh off his stunning 9th Round TKO over previously unbeaten Vyacheslav Senchenko (then 32-0) in Donetsk, Ukraine in April, would love nothing more than to avenge his loss to Ricky Hatton.
And aside from bouts against Mayweather, Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley, Hatton vs Malignaggi II probably represents Paulie's most lucrative option.
"I'm hearing that Ricky Hatton is interested in a comeback and I'm hearing rumours that I'm the target of that comeback," stated Paulie to BoxingScene.
"I've had three rematches in my career and I'm 3-0 in those rematches."
"In our fight, he did very well. I'd like to think there are a lot of things that I could have done better and I'd like to think that I've made a lot of changes on my team that have really, really brought out the best in me."
Harkening back to the beating he took from Hatton in 2008, Malignaggi added, "It's a loss that I've had to live with. It's a loss that hindered me and every day I think about that loss and it bothers me.
"The rematch is something that interests me. I have nothing but respect for Ricky, his fans and his family."
"I know that he wants to come back and win a title to reclaim old glory but it's my time now and I know I can beat Ricky Hatton."
Big Fight, Brand New Venue
Malignaggi's team is looking to stage their fighter's next bout at Barclays Center - a sports arena currently under construction in Brooklyn, New York which will serve as a new home for the National Basketball Association's Brooklyn Nets.
"If there is any truth to the rumour of Hatton coming out of retirement and fighting Paulie straight away, then that becomes priority one for Team Malignaggi," manager Anthony Cantazaro told NYFightBlog.
"What better way to open the Barclays Center?"
Although Hatton has reportedly shed 30 lbs (2 stone), there still have been no known verbal indications of a comeback from the fighter himself nor anyone else in his promotions company.