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Friday, March 7, 2008
Updated: March 12, 9:09 AM ET
British boxer Hatton joins Golden Boy Promotions

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton of England, one of the most popular fighters in the world, signed with Golden Boy Promotions on Thursday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but HBO has been talking with the Hatton camp about a three-fight contract, multiple sources involved in the negotiations told ESPN.com. Hatton's previous HBO deal ended last year.

Golden Boy promoted Hatton's 10th-round knockout loss to welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Dec. 8. Hatton had a good experience working with Golden Boy and many in the boxing industry believed he would sign with Oscar De La Hoya's company long term.

Hatton (43-1, 31 KOs) did explore other options, including a return to former promoter Artie Pelullo, but eventually decided to stick with Golden Boy. Hatton has also founded his own promotional company, Punch Promotions, which will partner with Golden Boy.

"I'm pleased to be working with Golden Boy Promotions and I know that each one of my fights will be bigger than the last, not only for me, but for all of my loyal fans," Hatton said in a statement. "I got a taste of working with Oscar and his team with my fight with Floyd Mayweather and they're a world-class company. They're the kind of team I need to keep me in big fights against the best in the world."

Said De La Hoya, who probably would have wound up facing Hatton had Hatton defeated Mayweather, "I've always been a fan of Ricky Hatton and it's an honor to partner with Ricky and Punch Promotions to add him to the Golden Boy Promotions roster. He's a fighter universally loved by fight fans because of his heart and aggressive style. We're all expecting even bigger and better things from him in the coming months."

Hatton will return to the ring on May 24 in his hometown of Manchester. He will face Juan Lazcano, a Golden Boy fighter from El Paso, Texas.

Whether the bout is televised in the United States is unclear. HBO has close ties to Golden Boy but isn't interested in the fight, especially because it falls on Memorial Day weekend, which is traditionally a low viewership time of year.

Hatton won the recognized world junior welterweight championship by stopping Kostya Tszyu in June of 2005. Later in 2005, Hatton unified belts by knocking out Carlos Maussa.

Hatton then moved up to welterweight and claimed a belt against Luis Collazo before dropping back to 140 pounds and reclaiming one of his previous titles with a lopsided decision against Juan Urango.

Hatton followed that win with a knockout against Jose Luis Castillo in June 2007, setting the stage for the fight with Mayweather.

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.