Boxing - Ricky Hatton 'still has it', says welterweight peer

EXCLUSIVE: Ricky Hatton is more than capable of enjoying a successful second in-ring career, according to fellow British welterweight Ashley Theophane.

Hatton handpicked former British champion Theophane for the Hatton Promotions stable in 2011, and has the 32-year-old on his undercard at the Manchester Arena on Saturday.

Theophane has had the privilege of not only spending time in the gym around ‘The Hitman’, but also previously travelling abroad on invitation to train with Hatton’s two conquerors, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

And the London-born ‘Treasure’ predicts that both he and the returning Hatton will show their class in Manchester against Chris Truman and Vyacheslav Senchenko respectively.

“I believe Ricky Hatton has much more to give,” Theophane told Eurosport-Yahoo!. “He is a two-weight world champion, and he only lost to the very best.

"I believe he will stop his opponent on Saturday. Senchenko is someone I would love to fight, after Ricky is done with him. I think Ricky would beat Paul Malignaggi as well, if that is the path he chooses to go.

“Ricky sold 19,000 tickets in just three days, without an opponent being announced, that shows he is still the biggest draw in British boxing.

“It's a real honour to be part of the show, and I look forward to a successful 2013 with his promotional outfit.”

He continued: “I have to thank Ricky himself, as if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be making an appearance on the card.

“I was mooted to fight WBA world number six Johan Perez but that fight fell through. Now I have to fight Truman, who is well out of his league (below his level), but seriously determined to beat me, as he has said I'm the ‘biggest fight of his boxing career’.

“So it’s a dream come true for him to fight me on Saturday night, and I'll have to unfortunately break his heart. My goal is to get my 10th knockout win this weekend.

“I've fought on the world scene and have been successful. I just hope he has his life jacket on Saturday, as I'll be taking him into very deep waters.”

Theophane, whose record stands at 32-5, took WBA Super and WBC light-welterweight champion Danny Garcia – who knocked out Amir Khan in July – to the limit over 10 rounds in February 2010 before dropping a split decision to the American.

Using the defeat as valuable top-level experience, Theophane won his next six fights and picked up two titles in the process before a contentious decision loss to Darren Hamilton in May.

Nonetheless, the Englishman bounced back with an August victory over Ronnie Warrior Jnr in Charlotte, North Carolina and hopes a victory over Truman will precede a big 2013.

He explained: “I'm the most successful boxer on Ricky’s promotional roster, so in 2013 I need the big fights that I crave.

“Ashley Theophane is only halfway through his journey. I have a goal to reach 50 wins, and within the next several years I will reach that landmark.

“I want to continue to win titles. I've won three so far: the British, IBO International and the GBC welterweight title.

“I'm looking to fight in Mexico next year and fight in America again. As well as have training camps at the Mayweather Gym and Gleason's Gym.”

He concluded: “I've always done things the hard way. That's just how it is for me, and I've accepted that.

“Maybe that's why I work so hard, and I have a ‘never say die attitude’. I love being the underdog, and proving people wrong.

“When I turned professional, no promoter was interested in me, but last year, Hatton Promotions, Frank Warren, Eddie Hearn, Mick Hennessey and Frank Maloney all wanted to sign me.

“That just proves that hard work and dedication pays off.”