Hatton is set to fight American Juan Lazcano at the City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday, May 24, and then battle to become IBF world light-welterweight champion once more by overcoming current champion Paulie Malignaggi at New York’s Madison Square Garden in the autumn.
Lazcano agreed terms four weeks ago, Ray Hatton, the Manchester fighter’s father and business manager revealed yesterday.
He said that New Yorker Malignaggi is also close to signing the deal which would see him first fight on the undercard ahead of the world title showdown with Hatton.
But if Malignaggi fails to put pen to paper, the Hattons are ready to switch to Ricardo Torres, the Colombian who holds the WBO 10st world title.
And if negotiations with the City of Manchester Stadium fall through, then the British fight is likely to take place at Wembley a week later, on May 31, as Hatton bids to bounce back from his first defeat, at the hands of Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas in December.
It means there is no place for Junior Witter, Hatton’s bitter British rival who holds the WBC world belt.
Bradford fighter Witter’s proposed title defence against Demetrius Hopkins — nephew of former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who fights Joe Calzaghe in Las Vegas in April — is in jeopardy after the challenger split with his promoters, claiming he had not signed for next month’s fight in Palm Springs.
“Two or three weeks ago they were saying that Ricky wasn’t on their horizon. But we believe that fell through and it’s the same old bandwagon — let’s go down the Ricky Hatton road again,” said Ray.
Hatton is adamant he cannot wait to return to the ring after stepping up to welterweight to fight Mayweather, and suffering the first setback of his 44-fight career when he was stopped in the 10th round.
“Vegas was fantastic but what was disappointing was the small number of tickets my fans got so I insisted on coming back as a way to say thank you to my fans.”