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Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton (43-1, 31 KOs) performed a media workout at his gym in Denton, Manchester today. All eyes were on his fitness after reports this week in the UK press that the IBO jr-welterweight champion was suffering from a chest infection and required antibiotics in the build up to the end of his training. He looked in superb shape and check-weighed 146 pounds with eight days left to the weigh-in. He performed several rounds on the "body bag" with trainer Billy Graham and completed a thirty minute run on the running machine. He confirmed to the watching press that the infection happened several weeks ago and after a course of medication he had received clearance from his doctor.

After the work out, the 29-year-old two division champion took time out to talk to about his upcoming fight.

Ricky, when you turned professional in 1997 did you dream of fighting in front of the biggest crowd in british boxing history?

I had my first fight in Widnes in 1997 and there were a few hundred people packed into the Kingsway Leisure Centre. I do have to pinch myself that on May 24th I will box in front of a crowd of 55,000 people. What is amazing is that 45,000 tickets went in the first six hours. That is phenomenal and makes me proud of my boxing achievements. Whilst I may not be the best fighter on the planet -- I must surely be the best supported. I remember as a 12-year-old boy going to watch Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank at Old Trafford in Manchester and watching 40,000 fans cheer on two of Britain's greatest fighters. I never thought then that now at 29 years of age I would be breaking that record and fighting in front of 55,000 fans. My fans have followed me around the world and this fight is about putting something back to them. Recently the great Oscar de la Hoya had a "homecoming" fight in Los Angeles and he got a 30,000 crowd -- it makes me proud that some 55,000 fans are coming to watch Ricky Hatton. Not even some pop concerts sell tickets in this volume and this quickly.

What motivates you now -- is it the glory or the money?

It is certainly not the money as after 44 professional fights I am well taken care of financially. It has never been about the money for Ricky Hatton -- its is about the challenge. What would the legacy of me as a fighter be if I just threw the towel in after the first defeat and took an easy way out. What would everyone think? If you look back in history at the all-time greats they have been judged on how they come back from defeat. A good fighter can only become great by coming back from defeat and showing how good he is. That is what I aim to do on May 24th. Everyone thinks Ricky will never be the same after being knocked out by Floyd Mayweather. They will be saying that all the eating and drinking between fights has finally caught up on him. I feel for this fight that I have a few doubters and critics perhaps I need to shut up. Yes, I lost to Floyd Mayweather but that is nothing to be ashamed of. He is, after all the best fighter on the planet. I feel there are a few daggers out that I need to show how good and how determined Ricky Hatton is.

Do you feel better back down at 140 pounds?

I have been fighting at 140 pounds since 12 years of age and I am 29 now -- 140 pounds is my best weight. I have fought at 147 pounds twice now and it has been a struggle. I can do extra weights and bulk up but back down at 140 pounds I can bully opponents and push them around the ring. I have a greater physical aspect to my performance and I struggled against Luis Collazo and although I won it wasn't the same powerful fighter you saw against Kostya Tszyu and Jose Luis Castillo. Although it looks like I blow up between fights, my understanding of nutrition and diet as I get older is better than ever and I actually make the weight easier now at twenty nine. My strength at 140 pounds is given up a little when I move to 147 pounds and when you fight at the highest level then sometimes this is the difference between winning and losing. I am more effective at 140 pounds and people must still recognize I am the linear champion at jr-welterweight and undefeated in 42 fights.

Much of the talk has been about a re-match eventually with Floyd Mayweather but that would be back at 147 pounds. Would a fight with Manny Paqcuio coming up from 135 pounds to 140 pounds be an attractive fight for you?

We have not been in talks with anyone about this fight but it is one that would interest me. With two of the most popular fighters in the world this would be a huge fight. With Manny Pacquio looking to come to lightweight and beat David Diaz a step up to 140 pounds could be an attractive fight for global boxing fans around the world. First though, I must take care of Juan Lazcano. It looks like my next three fights are mapped out in Lazcano, Malinaggi and perhaps Mayweather. If the Mayweather fight was to fall through then I would love to fight someone such as Manny Pacquio. My intention is to get back to winning ways, re-establish myself and return to America to fight the best fighters. The first step on that route is Juan Lazcano.

Were you surprised that Tim Bradley defeated Junior Witter for the WBC title at 140 pounds?

In some ways I was but Tim Bradley had a good amateur career and once he fathomed out the style of Junior Witter and became effective with those fast hands and combinations he looked like he was always going to win. I had Bradley winning by four rounds and it seemed that Junior Witter did not have a plan b for the fight once Bradley started to become effective. It will be interesting to see where Witter goes from here.

How much have you seen of Lazcano on tape?

I have watched him loads. He has been in the top ten for the last six or seven years. He is a very capable fighter and has won 46 of 49 fights. The last two defeats have been for world titles and he has not been stopped for ten years. He is a come forward fighter with a style similar to mine – doesn't like taking a backward step, good body puncher and he comes to fight. No one will be bored to tears. You cannot accuse Ricky Hatton of taking easy fights when you look at the last six opponents in Tszyu, Maussa, Collazo, Urango, Castillo and Mayweather. That is why 55,000 fans want to come and watch me because they see an exciting bout and an action style. Lazcano will come to fight and take me on I am sure. It surely won't be a tickling contest and although we can both fight on the back foot it won't be before long before we get back into the trenches.

How has the Mayweather defeat affected your mental motivation for this fight?

Its true I come off my first defeat after going 43-0 and it was a KO defeat. Sometimes you need a kick up the arse and it has focused me in the gym. I have that little bit extra umph in the ring, running and hitting the bag. I have that extra bit of push. I am a good fighter and I want to show that I can be a great fighter by coming back from such a defeat.

Is the virus fully recovered?

As you can see today with my performance with the body bag and fitness I have no problems. I am just six pounds above the 140 limit and I took a couple of days off that was all. Let's get it right. A camp is twelve weeks and if you don't get a sniffle or something during a three month period something is wrong. I hope everyone today saw that Ricky Hatton is ready and in great shape. My combinations were sharp and generally I feel in good shape and glad I took a couple of days off. I would worry if it were in the last few days before the fight but it was a few weeks ago. Ricky Hatton is raring to go and fully fit.

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I suppose so. It would be a bit of a mismatch.
Yes it would, but you have a good argument for the fight if you want to use it. Check it out...After Malignaggi who is Hatton going to fight at 140 that will provide a solid payday? Hatton is nearing the end of his career, so I think he'll target the biggest possible paydays. That is Mayweather, Pacquiao, and DLH.

Yes it would, but you have a good argument for the fight if you want to use it. Check it out...After Malignaggi who is Hatton going to fight at 140 that will provide a solid payday? Hatton is nearing the end of his career, so I think he'll target the biggest possible paydays. That is Mayweather, Pacquiao, and DLH.
That's true. If the Mayweather fight doesn't happen for whatever reason then I think Pac is the way to go.
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