Campbell Hatton, son of Manchester legend Ricky, begins his professional career, writes John Dennen
HE is joining the family trade. His father, Ricky Hatton is a legend of British boxing. His uncle Matthew was a European champion and Canelo Alvarez challenger. Now Campbell Hatton will make his professional debut on Saturday (March 27) in Gibraltar.
“I’d have my nappy changed by the side of the ring, I was in there that young,” Campbell said cheerily. “I think I was about 14 when I thought I want to do this. This is what I want to do for a living like my dad did.
“It’s a bit of a weird one, boxing, it’s addictive. No matter what level they’ve done it at, even if they’ve just done a boxercise class at a local health and fitness gym, everyone says there’s no training like it, even just the thrill of it. As soon as I started, I just loved it, I just loved fighting. I know my dad and Matthew did it, but it weren’t really because they did it, that’s obviously what introduced me to it… But as soon as I got to the gym, I just got hooked with it.
“There’s easier ways to earn money anyway. So it’s too hard a game to be doing if you don’t love it yourself.”
The beginning of his amateur boxing career came with an unusual pressure. When Hatton is your surname, people want to see you and boxers want to beat you. “I’ve got to be at my best all the time because my opponent will always train 10 times harder when they know they’re boxing me because it looks good on the old CV, saying they’ve beat a Hatton. So I’m always fighting the best version of my opponents but that’s always brought the best out of me as well. Because I know they’re going to be on it, so I’ve got to be on it as well,” he told Boxing News. “When I was boxing in the amateurs they used to sometimes put me on last, I must have been about 12 years old and I was the last fight on the show. I didn’t get in the ring until half 10, 11 o’clock. They used to say main event sometimes, which weren’t always great. The room used to fill up when I was boxing because they wanted to have a look. I have had that pressure to an extent but pressure’s on with the show my debut’s on, Sky Box Office. But I’m more than ready for it.
“I was nervous for my first couple just like every kid is. I just think because it’s been from the start, I’ve not really known any different. I’ve always dealt with it really well. Because there’s that many people watching I’ve always buzzed off it really because I know it’s going to bring the best out of me. Because of that pressure I can’t afford to put in bad performances, make myself look an idiot in front of people. It always brought the best out of me, made me work that little bit harder.”
He had 30 amateur bouts in the UK and won a novice title, certainly respectable experience.
“The phone didn’t stop ringing [before he won the Development title]. People wanted to fight me because of my name,” Campbell said. “[After,] people on the same amount of fights didn’t really want to know. We never turned a fight down. We was always boxing the very top kids. We had to really. I’d much rather have boxed at the top level, not won all the fights but I was always in close fights. I’d rather have done that than fought kids [who weren’t] on the same level as the lads I was fighting.
“They’ve been England boxers, international boxers, national champions, area champions, I’ve had no easy fights. Every one’s been a really good challenge. I think the quality of the fights I’ve had has put me in good stead as well.”
He would have had another run in the Elite championships, but the pandemic has shut down the amateur sport in this country. With his uncle training him and his father managing him, he decided to turn pro. “It was the best thing I did because we had that kick up the arse in the gym and that extra motivation. It was like a switch had flipped,” he says. “Everything I was doing in the amateurs, in my head it was always to get me ready to eventually being a professional. Now the time’s here, I can’t wait now.”
He also promises to showcase the family style. “There’s similarity to my dad’s style, I like to come forwards, throw a lot of body shots, I’ve got a good engine. I’m strong as well. But I like to mix it up a bit as well. So I like to sometimes give a little bit of ground away, use my movement and work off my jab as well. So I like to do a bit of both,” he explained.
A small audience should be permitted in Gibraltar but in the long run Campbell wants to perform for his home city. “I’ve always dreamed of boxing in the Manchester Arena. I’ve been there myself watching top fighters like Anthony Crolla and Josh Warrington-Carl Frampton, some top nights there. I’ve watched on Youtube the nights my dad put on there and I want to do that myself. It’s always been a dream. I don’t think we’re far off getting back to it now, fingers crossed anyway,” Hatton said.
“I think a lot of people will be surprised with how far I can go. I’m not an arrogant person or cocky or anything. But with my work ethic and ability, I do think I can go all the way. It’s not going to happen overnight. I’m a big believer that you get back what you put in. With the people around me I don’t see any reason why I can’t go all the way.”