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Friday, October 14, 2011
Ricky Hatton reinvents himself as trainer

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Ricky Hatton
Ricky Hatton, who won two major titles as a fighter, initially had trouble adjusting to retirement.

Although former junior welterweight champ Ricky Hatton announced his retirement this past summer, he isn't done inside the ring.

Yes, he's done fighting, but Hatton, who also oversees Hatton Promotions in England, has taken out a trainer's license and is embarking on a career training young fighters.

On Nov. 12, Hatton will man his first corner as a head trainer when he leads 20-year-old welterweight prospect Adam Little (3-0, 1 KO) into his next bout. Hatton is excited about it.

"This is the biggest buzz I have had since my fighting days," Hatton said. "When I was going through my depression, I would nip off to the pub, but I don't want to now. I am looking forward to work every day and every evening. I am sitting up thinking what new things we can do in training.

"I boxed to be the best in the world, and nothing has changed now that I've become a trainer. My standards are still as high as they were as a fighter, and I hope to try and be the best trainer in the world. Once word gets out that I am training, it won't be long before more kids ask me to work with them. Adam is really talented and will get to the stage where he has several title belts wrapped around his waist.

"I've learnt a lot from very good coaches over the years -- like Brian Hughes, Billy Graham, Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Bob Shannon. Working with so many great coaches, I've picked the bones out of what I agree with and added my own little spin. I think I have come up with a great system and, coupled with my enthusiasm, believe I can be a success."

Hatton, who turned 33 earlier this month, was the long-reigning 140-pound champion and also won a title in the 147-pound welterweight division. Although Hatton's last fight came in May 2009, when Manny Pacquiao knocked him out in the second round, he didn't formally announce his retirement until this past July. During the time between the Pacquiao fight and the announcement, Hatton struggled with alcohol, drugs and depression, which he says is now under control as he moves into the next phase of his life. That includes promoting fights and also training fighters.

"The [British boxing] board have shown great faith in me by handing back my seconds license and giving me a trainer's license for the first time," Hatton said. "It means they are putting their trust in me to go in a corner with a boxer and look after his welfare."

Hatton had lost his seconds and managers licenses last year while being treated for depression.

"I am dedicated to being a trainer as much as I was to being a fighter because boxing is a hard game and you only get once chance," Hatton said. "I have got that little spring in my step and I hope it won't be long before future champions start knocking on my door asking me to train them. I am fully on board running my businesses, but my office has always been the boxing gym and that is where I give my best advice. It makes sense to go into coaching because I am involved in the game I love. It was hard to come to terms with retirement, and boxing is the best feeling in the world, but the next-best thing is throwing punches for one of your fighters."

Ramos-Rigondeaux purse bid

For $126,000, Top Rank won a purse bid this week to promote the fight between junior featherweight titlist Rico Ramos and interim titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux. Top Rank's Carl Moretti was the lone bidder at the Panama City, Panama offices of the WBA. Dan Goossen, Ramos' promoter, did not bid.

Guillermo Rigondeaux
Two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux will try to add to his trophy case when he faces junior featherweight titlist Rico Ramos on Dec. 3.

The sides thought they had made a deal two weeks ago for the fight to take place on Dec. 3 on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito HBO PPV undercard. However, Top Rank's Bob Arum and Goossen came away from their discussions with vastly different recollections of the deal. Arum claims he offered $105,000 to Goossen for the bout, while Goossen said the offer was more than double that (to which Arum responded that Goossen's $200,000-plus figure was the total for the entire bout). In any event, the deal fell apart and it went to a purse bid.

Normally, the titleholder would be entitled to 55 percent of the winning bid, with the interim titlist getting 45 percent. However, under the terms of this purse bid, Rigondeaux is entitled to the 55 percent share ($69,300, although Top Rank will likely pay him about double that based on his deal with the promoter), while Ramos would get 45 percent ($56,700).

The switch in percentages was part of a deal made earlier this year for Rigondeaux, the mandatory challenger, to step aside and allow Ramos to challenge then titlist Akifumi Shimoda on July 9. That deal called for Ramos, if he won, to face Rigondeaux next under those terms. Ramos knocked out Shimoda in the seventh round on HBO.

Moretti said the contract had been sent to Goossen and that he had 20 days (a WBA rule) to return a signed agreement for the fight. If Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs) doesn't accept the fight, he would be stripped of the belt and Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs), the former two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist, would be elevated to full titlist, Moretti said.

Moretti said the fight is tentatively scheduled for "Top Rank Live" on Dec. 17 (FSN/Fox Deportes) at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla.

"No. 1 on the agenda is to get the fight done," Moretti said.

Murray pumped for shot at Rios

Although British lightweight John Murray (31-1, 18 KOs) is coming off his first professional loss -- an eighth-round knockout to countryman Kevin Mitchell in a July thriller -- he showed enough to land a shot against titleholder Brandon Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs).

They will meet on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito undercard on Dec. 3 (HBO PPV) at New York's Madison Square Garden. Murray, 26, is thankful for the unexpected opportunity.

"I'm over the moon with this opportunity, and I'm not going over to New York to make up the numbers -- I can win this," said Murray, who has had three fights in the United States, two in 2007 and one in 2005. "Rios is a class act. He's one of the top men in the lightweights and it's not going to be easy for me, but I believe this has come at the right time and I can beat him. Fighting in America doesn't bother me. I've fought in Las Vegas twice and in Florida, so it won't be anything that I haven't seen already. In fact, I'm looking forward to causing an upset at the mecca of boxing. Don't judge me on the Mitchell fight; you will see a completely new John Murray on the night."

Quick Hits

Cris Arreola
Cristobal Arreola, an American-born heavyweight of Mexican descent, is excited about the prospect of making his first fight in Mexico on Nov. 5.

• Mexican-American heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola's first fight in Mexico, which will take place Nov. 5 in Leon against Alonzo Butler, will be carried in the United States on ESPN Deportes. The card is being televised nationally on Televisa in Mexico, where Arreola's parents are from. Arreola, from Riverside, Calif., has wanted to fight in Mexico, and in his fifth fight of the year against Butler (28-2, 21 KOs), he'll get to do just that. "I'm glad that we have the opportunity to have the fight on Televisa in Mexico and that we have ESPN Deportes bringing it back here to the States," promoter Dan Goossen said. "It's exactly what he wanted to accomplish." Arreola is a likely opponent for heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2012, as Klitschko would like to fight in the United States. Arreola (33-2, 28 KOs) has had one previous title shot, losing by 10th-round TKO to Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir's older brother and a fellow champion, in 2009.

• With two weeks left before the rematch of the possible fight of the year, flyweight titlist Hernan "Tyson" Marquez of Mexico is rounding into shape for his go against Panama's Luis Concepcion, whom he meets again on Oct. 29 in Hermosillo, Mexico. "The preparation is going well," Marquez said. "We are working at a rapid pace, weight is no problem and we know Concepcion. I'm sure it will be a great fight again, but this time I will win easier. This fight is very important to me. I will show that I was superior to him in the first fight and I'll be superior to him in the second. This is for my people of Hermosillo, and I am ready for another war." Marquez (31-2, 24 KOs) went to Panama in April and stopped Concepcion (23-2, 18 KOs) in the 11th round to win the belt in a breathtaking battle in which both men were knocked down. After an easy third-round knockout of Edrin Dapudong in his first defense in July, Marquez accepted the rematch, which will not be on the "Top Rank Live" series as originally announced. Concepcion also has one win since their first encounter.

• Welterweight titlist Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-0, 21 KOs) of Ukraine will make a mandatory defense against American Brad Solomon (17-0, 7 KOs) after Senchenko's promoter, Union Boxing Promotions, won a purse bid this week for a stunning $1.1 million. As titleholder, Senchenko is entitled to 75 percent of the winning bid ($825,000), with Solomon due 25 percent ($275,000, a career high by far). Heavyweight Factory, Solomon's promoter, which offered $200,000, was the only other bidder. The date and venue for the fight aren't set, although it will likely take place in Ukraine, where Senchenko has fought all but three of his bouts. Solomon hasn't fought since a career-best victory against Demetrius Hopkins (by lopsided decision) in March.

• Super middleweights Librado Andrade (30-4, 23 KOs) of La Habra, Calif., but originally from Mexico, and Chicago's Donovan George are slated to meet Dec. 17 at a site to be determined in Mexico in a title eliminator that will move the winner into a mandatory position to face the winner of the Nov. 5 bout between titlist Lucian Bute and Glen Johnson. Leon Margules, George's co-promoter with Dominic Pesoli's 8 Count Productions, told ESPN.com that he made a deal with Golden Boy, Andrade's promoter, and avoided a purse bid. "We are very excited for Don to get this opportunity," Margules said. "He has worked very hard and we believe he will win this fight and challenge for the world title." George (22-1-1, 19 KOs) has won two fights in a row since taking a beating from Francisco Sierra in a seventh-round technical decision loss in July 2010. Andrade has unsuccessfully challenged three times for a super middleweight title, losing to Bute (twice) and Mikkel Kessler. He is 3-3 in his past six bouts, but is coming off a third-round knockout win against Matt O'Brien in August.

• Promoter Don King has secured WealthTV as the American television outlet for his Nov. 5 card from the Hard Rock Resort in Hollywood, Fla., featuring cruiserweight titlist Guillermo Jones (37-3-2, 29 KOs) of Panama defending against Mike Marrone (20-3, 15 KOs) of Vero Beach, Fla. WealthTV, which touts itself as "the premier lifestyle and entertainment network," has been around since 2004 and claims to be available on more than 100 cable systems. King said he hopes this card will be the first of many future cards on the network. "As the number of networks and telecast platforms across the technological spectrum has increased, I have been looking for new and inventive ways to bring my events to the masses," King said. "WealthTV is the latest in a long line of outlets that have come to me seeking to expand audience and market share through world championship prizefights. I see this as a golden opportunity for people across the nation to see fights on WealthTV, just like people saw fights on ABC, CBS and NBC in yesteryear. I hope this is the first of many live boxing telecasts on WealthTV. This is a good thing for boxing fans who can't be there on the scene but can watch it live on the screen." WealthTV will air the main event along with live coverage of several undercard bouts, including junior middleweight Joey Hernandez (19-1-1, 11 KOs) against Elco Garcia (25-7, 12 KOs) and cruiserweight contender Francisco Palacios (20-1, 13 KOs) against Joell Godfrey (13-4-1, 6 KOs).

• 2008 British Olympic gold medalist James DeGale (10-1, 8 KOs) returns Saturday night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, for his first fight since losing a decision and his British super middleweight title to rival George Groves. DeGale will challenge Poland's Piotr Wilczewski (29-1, 10 KOs) for the European 168-pound crown on the undercard of light heavyweight titlist Nathan Cleverly (22-0, 11 KOs) making his second defense against Tony Bellew (16-0, 10 KOs), who is from Liverpool. "I've had a good rest and returned back stronger than ever, and I'm just looking forward to getting in the ring again and winning the European title," DeGale said. "I'm still on track to fight for a world title next year, which was always the plan when I turned professional after winning gold at the Beijing Olympics. Wilczewski is a good, strong fighter. I'd be stupid to just look past him, so everything is about Saturday night and making sure I win." Getting over the loss to Groves wasn't easy, but "one loss isn't going to break me," DeGale said. "This is going to be the making of me and I'll go on to bigger and better things."

• No, it's not 2001, but former welterweight titlist Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis and Hector Camacho Jr. will meet Dec. 17 in a junior middleweight bout in Georgetown, Guyana, Lewis' home country. Lewis (23-4-2, 20 KOs) won a welterweight belt in 2001, made two defenses and then lost when Ricardo Mayorga knocked him out in the fifth round of their 2002 rematch. Lewis, in a 2-4-1 rut (including the loss to Mayorga), has fought sporadically since losing his title -- and not since losing a split decision to countryman Howard Eastman, the former middleweight contender, in October 2008 in Guyana. Camacho Jr. (53-4-1, 28 KOs) hasn't been a factor on the world scene since quitting in a no-contest against James Leija in a 2001 junior welterweight fight on HBO.

• British heavyweight prospect Tyson Fury (16-0, 11 KOs) will fight in his birthplace of Manchester, England for the first time as a professional when he defends the Commonwealth title against Canada-based, Bosnian-born Neven Pajkic (16-0, 5 KOs) of Canada on Nov. 12 in a fight that will be televised on free national television in England on Ch. 5, which will be airing its third consecutive Fury bout as the fighter continues to gain attention. Fury and Pajkic, who have trash-talked each other for a while, now can settle their issues in the ring. "I've never seen Neven show this much anger towards any other fighter," said Rick Smiciklas, Pajkic's promoter. "It all started when Tyson called out Neven, who then flicked his towel at Tyson, and it's grown from there. Neven can't stand Tyson. Calling it a bitter rivalry is weak. Now they can settle their bad blood in the ring. It's going to be a fun night. They each have a lot of energy. Both are charismatic and speak very well. This is a fight that's going to be good for boxing and both guys."

Quotable

Hopkins

"Being 46 and sexy, with the body of a 25-year-old? I think that is pretty impressive."
-- Light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, paying himself a compliment after a workout for the media promoting his fight against Chad Dawson on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET, $49.95) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at danrafaelespn.