Ricky Hatton believes he can prolong his career by becoming a more polished boxer and insists: “I’m not ready for my pipe and slippers yet!”
Hatton, 29, will be trained by Floyd Mayweather snr for the clash with IBF light-welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi on November 22 after parting company with long-time coach Billy Graham earlier this year.
The Mancunian lost his only fight last year, ironically against Mayweather’s son Floyd jnr, and has admitted his tendency to try to “bulldoze” opponents proved costly on that occasion.
He has vowed to utilise his boxing skills from now on under the guidance of defensive expert Mayweather snr but with tickets for the fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas selling fast – nearly 13,000 have already been snapped up – Hatton insists he will also keep faith with his exciting style.
“With someone like Malignaggi you’ve got to cut the ring down, get in close,” said the former two-weight world champion, who is still rated as the world’s best 140lb fighter.
“But with the things I’m working on, along with the boxing ability I had in the first place, I’ve now got a coach who is going to bring that out of me a bit more and I expect to out-box Paulie.”
As for whether those new tactics will give him added longevity, Hatton said: “It should do. A lot of fighters have done that with their career.
“I’m not saying I’m ready for my pipe and slippers yet but as you get a bit older with a lot of miles on the clock and tough fights behind you, you don’t change your style, but you’ve got to tweak it and be a bit more cautious.
“Look at Marco Antonio Barrera; in some of his fights he turned from fighter to boxer had some wonderful fights and wins in doing so and Arturo Gatti was another one.
“I’ve shown my boxing ability a number of other times and even people close to me have said ’Why don’t you do that more often?’
“In working with a coach who is a bit more safety-first, if that helps that then it should make me a better fighter.”
Hatton had hoped to fight at the legendary Madison Square Garden in Malignaggi’s native New York until logistical problems ended that dream, but he admits Las Vegas is like a home away from home due to his huge British following and American supporters.
“I think because of the fan base I have anywhere could be seen as a home fight, they are second to none, and with the tickets flying already they never cease to amaze me,” he said.
“I feel very, very proud. The American fight fans treat me well too and it’s going to be great to go back. I’m sure I’ll have better luck than I did last time (against Mayweather).
“I think this fight shows what I am all about because I’m going back to the scene of the crime, if you like, the MGM Grand. It shows that I have no fear and I have the confidence to go and do so.”
Malignaggi, whose IBF belt seems unlikely to be on the line due to typical boxing politics, insists titles are unimportant in a fight of this magnitude and is unconcerned by Hatton’s new tactics.
“I’m sure he’ll come with a couple of different things but I’m a firm believer in ’You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’,” said the New Yorker.