Ricky Hatton will bring an end to his illustrious career if he loses to Paulie Malignaggi in their IBF light-welterweight title bout at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas tomorrow night. "The Hitman" was close to calling it a day during the summer and admitted he had struggled to recapture his best form following his defeat to Floyd Mayweather last December. Shortly after that the retirement of his long-term trainer Billy Graham and the manner of his lacklustre points win over Juan Lazcano left him on the verge of hanging up his gloves.
The 30-year-old Briton said: "Retirement before this training camp was seriously in my mind. I started to doubt myself and started thinking I'd lost touch of those vintage Ricky Hatton performances. I'd sort of lost faith in my own boxing ability. "Had I lost it, had the big fights caught up with me? So, I said to myself that if there wasn't a distinct improvement in this training camp then I'd seriously think about calling it quits."
Hatton credits his December vanquisher's father, Floyd Mayweather Sr, for getting him back in love with boxing. The Manchester-based boxer has been at his training camp by 5.30 each morning. "And now it's all change for me," said Hatton. "Now I'm thinking about Malignaggi and getting the next fight up and running. Now I'm thinking about how many fights I can pack in. "That said, if I lose to Malignaggi on Saturday, I'll probably pack up and go home. But what I'd say to the 10,000 fans who will have travelled out to see me in Vegas is that that won't happen - Ricky Hatton's got too much fight left in him."
Malignaggi goes into the fight with just one career defeat from 26 fights - in 2006 against Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto, while Hatton boasts a record of 44 wins from 45 fights, including 31 knock-outs. The Brooklyn-born Malignaggi has promised he will win while Hatton said he is already planning his victory celebrations with his cash-strapped fans. "Those guys are amazing, bonkers but amazing," he said. "They say there's 10,000 over here which is amazing considering the credit crunch we're having.
"It'll be no contest come Saturday. Look at his arsenal and then look at mine. His just doesn't match up. I've got experience against opponents he could only dream of - and then there's my fans that ought to shout down his." email@example.com