In anticipation of Saturday’s big welterweight title fight in Boston, the challenger Ricky Hatton and the champ Luis Collazo met the press via telephone conference call. The transcript of that call is below.
FRED STERNBURG, BANNER PROMOTIONS: Ricky how is training going and are you getting excited about your HBO début and your first fight in six years here in the United States?
RICKY HATTON: Yes, very much looking forward to it. It’s been a long time coming. And I’ve sensed for some years now that I was looking forward to topping the billing in the (ph) United States and China to come. I feel like a household name in the United States and the long wait is finally over. It’s just two weeks away (INAUDIBLE) and absolutely fantastic.
I’ve got very good sparring partners. You know could not be going better (ph), and I’m very, very excited to not only have the opportunity to try and become a single weight world champion, but I don’t think it will be – could become any more popular in Great Britain.
The next move is to – is to become as popular in the United States and the British fight fans certainly have taken to their heart (ph) under. I’m hoping that I can (INAUDIBLE) and I’ll put on a very good for the match for certain.
FRED STERNBURG: I’ll ask you one last question before we open it up. Ricky any – I know there’s been some questions about moving in up weight. Do you feel you’re prepared at this point for the challenge for a welterweight title without any type of tune up or is this something that gets you even more excited just going for a title right away?
RICKY HATTON: Yes. It gets me more excited. You know I like the challenge. You know feel like a lot of – you know would have been – I’ve had a few performances in my career where I’ve been the favored (ph) – maybe I’ve been expected – maybe I’ve underperformed you know because, you know, we’ve been in there with lots – you know maybe I’ve been expected to beat but I think, you know, the top of the class like when they come against the (INAUDIBLE) the bigger the challenge the better I was really and that’s what I want now.
I want big names. I want big challenges. You know, and I think if topping the bill for the first time in the United States wasn’t a big enough challenge, and if (ph) I could be world champion (ph) to boot, this shows you what type of fights I am all about really. So yes, I’m very much looking forward to it.
I’m a very big and strong junior welter and along with the certain training methods that me and, you know, the team of (INAUDIBLE) I’m sure I’ll – I’ll be, you know equally as strong if not stronger – in fact certainly will be stronger.
FRED STERNBURG: Wonderful and congratulations on all your honors that you’ve gotten over the past year for fighter of the year including the upcoming Boxing Writers Association for America’s big dinner coming up this week and “Ring Magazine,” you’re the first non-U.S. fighter to win so congratulations on that.
RICKY HATTON: You know this is really big things for me. I’m sorry obviously we’ll be in the final week of training so I won’t be able to make it there – the BWAA dinner, but obviously, you know, I consider it a massive honor (ph) (INAUDIBLE) and some of the great fights have been this year.
I consider, you know, a very big honor. I hope to be able to go and do it just this over the next year.
MIKE HOUSER, NEVADA APPEAL: Question for you, you know the welterweights are taller. What do you walk around at weight wise?
RICKY HATTON: What do I walk around at weight wise? I would say between 12 and 12 stone, seven.
MIKE HOUSER: And that is how many pounds American?
RICKY HATTON: I think that’s 168ish give or take a few pounds.
MIKE HOUSER: Are you prepared for a south paw like Collazo? He throws a lot of punches like you, but he can also box and move a bit.
RICKY HATTON: Yes. I watched Collazo’s performance when he won the title. He has shown he can take you out. Deep down, he’s very good and tricky on the move, but he can also stand and fight. His style will make for a very good fight. He’s one of them opponents.
So I think it will be quite difficult to lock against. But I’ve very well got a reversal style of fights. You know showing his certain fights against Gatti and (INAUDIBLE). Again, you know if it relates to boxing I can box and if it relates to, punching, you know, obviously I don’t have a problem in doing that.
So, yes, I think, you know he looks like a fighter and he – that can adapt but I’m sure I can to. Well, my training comes along good. You know, I’m very, very confident.
MIKE HOUSER: Final question from me for you, everyone’s talking about a possible Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya super fight. What about – and we’ve been talking about a Hatton – Mayweather fight. What about a Hatton – De La Hoya fight?
RICKY HATTON: Yes. That would be absolutely fantastic. You know – you know (INAUDIBLE) a great champion but by fighting great champions then I think Oscar De LA Hoya and Floyd Mayweather service at that bout you know.
So I’m happy to get, you know, to do this three-fight deal with HBO. Obviously in these next three fights I wish to establish myself in America because otherwise the American fight fans will probably see, you know, little bits of me on the television.
They haven’t really seen me fight there [U.S.] live yet and in the flesh so to speak. So I think over the next three fights I want to establish myself in (INAUDIBLE) and I think hopefully those fights – De La Hoya and Mayweather fights are dream fights for me and fights I want to be involved in.
KARL FREITAG, FIGHT NEWS: There was some talk with the WBA about having problems staging this fight. Luis Collazo had to make a mandatory against Urkal. Has that been resolved and the exceptions done and this fights going to be for the title for sure?
RICKY HATTON: I’m pretty sure it is going to be for title. I think there’s a problem with Collazo’s mandatory opponent which has enabled us to hopefully go ahead and have it as a sanctioned fight.
Well, I think there’s probably people on the line that are probably in a better position to answer that for you .
DENNIS HOBSON, HATTON CO-PROMOTER: (INAUDIBLE) – We’re very confident that this situation is going to be resolved and we hear – we’re waiting to hear from the judge who sat in the case of Ricky against (INAUDIBLE) for the case for the WBA 140 pound situation on something that is resolved and the judge gave clarification on that rule, and I think it should be all systems go. I think the German (Urkal) is accepting the situation and obviously if Ricky comes through against Collazo he could be looking for a big pay day. So I think things are looking – it’s really going to be resolved and we’re very confident that they are.
KARL FREITAG: OK, great. Ricky, as far as 147, 140, if you win this fight (ph) is there any going back to 140 or are you going to stay a welterweight?
RICKY HATTON: I don’t know yet. I mean at this stage of the game I’m more interested in how to pick the fight that is offered to me really. I’m not really true positive whether it’s at 147 or 140. I mean if I got to fight on a – a Mayweather fight or a – you know some fight along them lines against a big welterweight name and then yes, that’s definitely our goal for that.
But also if a good fight is offered at 140 maybe, you know, Corrales or Castillo I’ll go back down to 140. You know so I’m not really by what weight the fight is at at the moment more the size of the fight that interests me but obviously we’ve got to get past the Collazo fight first which I’m confident I’ll do.
And you know it makes the window look a lot – I can do both ways so it makes the window look a lot wider that way.
KARL FREITAG: You’re going to have to make a decision pretty fast because I think they only give you 10 or 15 days to decide right?
RICKY HATTON: Well, yes, we’ll make a – make a decision faster but yes, I mean if a fight (INAUDIBLE) you know – well, I mean not so many – not so many things to decide it’s more of a not just my decision, it’s more of a – you know my trainer, Michelle, you know, the team.
You know, I’ll sit down and make that decision but I’m in a position I can both ways and I’ll just see – you know what ever fight they have planned for me next really.
TRAE THOMPSON, FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM: Real quickly, do you put more pressure on yourself to really impress the American audience or do you believe they’ll be able to recognize a really quality performance that you’ll put on?
RICKY HATTON: Well, yes, obviously entertaining the fans is always, you know, so familiar agenda because I think that’s why I get the support that I do get, you know, certainly in Great Britain. I think it’s because of the way I fight and I always try and put the show on.
But yes, I mean generally (INAUDIBLE) I’ll try to put a show on for the fans and impress. And, you know, to this point I think I’ve been able to do that. You know, so yes, it is a lot of pressure to perform in the United States. It’s a big night for me but, you know, obviously I’ve got to cope with the pressure well.
With all that expectations on my shoulder that, you know, trying to fight in the states for the first time but I really do believe it will make me a far (INAUDIBLE) even better than I. I think whenever I’ve had a challenge put in front me like the Tszyu fight, you know, I’ve (INAUDIBLE) is obviously the main example.
I think I’ve been, you know, (INAUDIBLE) so I expect America to be the same.
TRAE THOMPSON: All right. And one more quick thing too for people who don’t kind of understand or don’t really grasp it well. Could you describe what the fans following this fight for you back home? I mean how wide – I mean how much you’re adored.
RICKY HATTON: Well, yes, I think people like my style of fighting. I’m a body punisher. I have a high (INAUDIBLE) right lot of volume punches, very, very aggressive at both of the knock out and also I think they like my fighting style but I also feel like my modest attitude, feet on the ground type approach, you know (INAUDIBLE).
You know I think I’m no different to (INAUDIBLE) type thing so I think that’s why also not just because of my style of fight but I think that’s why I get the support I do. But certainly these – nobody falls asleep at me fights that’s for certain but I think it’s because I liked to think it was something to do with me personality as well.
KEVIN DUPONT, BOSTON GLOBE: Ricky, I just wanted to pick up on the fan aspect of this. If I remember correctly you’re last fight in Manchester had 22 thousand people there and I’ve read some stories that you expect or your promoters expect three to five thousand people to make the trip here to Boston.
I’m just wondering first of all if you think that’s the number and then who are those people? I mean it’s a lot of money to make the trip. I’m just curious who these folks are.
RICKY HATTON: Well, often they’re just British fight fans. I think whenever a British fought in the past like, you know, Frank Bruno, Naseem Hamed, you know, fight (INAUDIBLE) leadership have come over to the – you know to the – to the states they always got fantastic turn out by the Brits.
You know so I think the British fight fans and British fight fans have been waiting for me to go to the America, you know, for quite a few years now. It’s been a long time in coming so I think now that it’s finally here the fans will be chomping at the bit so to speak to get over there.
But I know personally from my home town Manchester the – you know there are hundreds upon hundreds coming along you know. So when I think, you know, from Manchester (INAUDIBLE) up and down and all over the country yes, I would expect certainly in the region of three to five thousand certainly. Yes.
BERNARD FERNANDEZ, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS: You’re a guy who has a great motor in that you’re able, you know, to keep up a very, you know, fast paced for all 12 rounds. You know obviously conditioning goes into that but that are a lot of well conditioned fighters that don’t seem to have that sort of motor and to be able to stand it for, you know, as long as you do.
Can you kind of explain why that is?
RICKY HATTON: It could be a number of things. You know one could be, you know, heart has a lot to do with it. A lot of times in me career a lot of people have said that (INAUDIBLE) you know, sort of like not fight (INAUDIBLE) some guys so to speak you know.
So you know that – you know wanting to prove people wrong strives you more. Obviously it’s huge having your training methods. Having a good trainer that’s a – imagine very great in that certain training methods on the body belt, the bar bag and things lot that.
Also is balance, you know, to nutrition and general slim weight training and stuff like that. And it’s still a round picture really. You know and it’s – you know it’s knowing your body, knowing when it’s time let your body have, knowing it’s time to – when to rest.
It’s just a number of things really. You know it’s not one thing in particular. Also it could be some thing you might be born with you know because, you know, from the – since the age of maybe seven I’ve been fighting. I mean I started boxing when I was 10 but was doing kick boxing since I was seven and I’ve been (INAUDIBLE) soccer along the way.
So, I’ve always been very sport – very active if you like. You know so I don’t think – you know just things like that; could be a number of things really.
BERNARD FERNANDEZ: Just one follow up on that. And you mentioned a word that gets bounced around a lot in boxing and that’s heart. A lot of boxers have heart but to open in bell but when faced with the kind of pressure that you exert throughout a bout can you tell …
You know, I mean is there some way that you can detect when, you know, when you’re starting to take another guys hear; that you know that you he just can’t deal with the pressure.
RICKY HATTON: Well, yes. I mean certainly on the very, very top level it’s got to be educated pressure. I mean you can’t just go there flat out, you know, (INAUDIBLE) type thing. You know there’s got to be a message to the (INAUDIBLE).
You know so yes, I think you’ve got to know when to – when to work your opponent, you know, when to conserve energy yourself, you know, when to take a break in the rounds. Sometimes it’s very hard to know if the (INAUDIBLE). It’s knowing when to put your foot on the gas when to take it off the gas, you know.
But generally yes you can tell by breathing, you know, when your opponent needs a rest, you know, and just basically in the clinches you can tell, you know, from maybe – from the (INAUDIBLE) second round you might finish strong but come round six, round seven you might start to do a little strength fight in the clinches.
Just I think it’s all about experience as well. You know one things being able to do it but it’s being able – being able to meet an opponent (INAUDIBLE) second round as your – when you need to – it’s just a little number of things really.
I think it’s something a bit pretty much (INAUDIBLE) and you know if you ask me to explain it’s pretty hard to say exactly how I do it. It’s just something that seems to come natural with me.
MARC ABRAMS, 15ROUNDS.COM: Hey Ricky. (INAUDIBLE) you said you started fighting as a 10 year old boy back in Britain. Did you ever think that you would have U.S. promoters and U.S. television networks fighting over you and do you ever sit back at night and say wow?
RICKY HATTON: Well, it’s very, very strange. I mean obviously I sure imagine it’s the daydream of every American fighter to stand a deal with HBO and fight in the United States. You know so – for the British fighter, I think it’s pretty obvious how I feel.
But yes, I mean everybody is – people would have told me that I’d a been the – I had confidence in me self but if somebody would have told me from the outside I’d be, known as the number one in the junior welterweight division, The Ring magazine fighter of the year and The Ring champion, you know, and now fighting in the United States and I’d be fighting on HBO and live across England and all over the world, you know, is very, very – it’s incredible. It took a lot of time to get here and it won’t be (INAUDIBLE) less than I do. Luis Collazo won’t be a starting match.
MARC ABRAMS: Do you feel added pressure being that you are the latest British sensation like maybe Hamed was and do you feel any pressure to have to really excite the American fans?
RICKY HATTON: Yes. Yes. To be honest I love the pressure. The pressures – a lot of pressures on my career you know and it’s just from a young age in England that was always from the day I turned pro everybody – I was a young – you know the sports writers, you know, young prospect, you know and everybody expected me to go on to the big screen.
So expectation has always been big on my shoulders but I think that’s what’s made me – made me better. You know I love the pressure and I think the pressure is what makes you sharp and what makes you better.
RANDALL HAMMONS, FIGHTNEWS.COM: Going up in weight, do you think you would be able to maintain your quickness and punch in this fight?
RICKY HATTON: Yes. I think so yes, in fact obviously I’ve lost in my training camp of – I’ve been in training for twelve weeks – three months and in that time I’ve lost the same amount of body fat all of done is (INAUDIBLE) my training my weights programming and I’ve ended up keeping more muscle and anybody will tell you that stronger muscle is more – is more explosive and more …
You know so I found it helped me training if anything. I felt like – you know me punches are faster in the gym, my movements I’m more explosive and that has a lot to do with the weight training I was doing and the nutrition has been better cause my muscles haven’t been as fatigued in order to get down to the 140 mark.
Don’t get me wrong, when the fight comes obviously the opponents at 147 means the opponents are going to be bigger but you know as far as me gym work is to go by you know I feel me gym work, me sparring and everything has been quicker stronger and everything but only time will tell when the bell goes on May 13th whether welterweight suits me or whether it doesn’t but I think it will.
TIM GRAHAM, BUFFALO NEWS: Ricky I have a bit of a philosophical question for you here. I know that awards are very nice and they’re all well and good but when you look back on the end of your career how do you want to see yourself in terms of greatness? I guess I just want to get inside your head and find out what you think greatness means from of a fighter?
RICKY HATTON: I mean people will make their own decisions, you know, what I do line the gloves up but you know I’d like to think greatness is the – is like being like a champion of old fighting regular, which is what I have always done so that’s why I have 40 fights in me – in my career.
Fight the best man out there and I think I’ve done that in beating Kostya Tszyu. Then it went straight to a unification match and I fought Carlos Maussa, then I’ve gone straight to an immediate fight after that against a welterweight – tougher to do in the states for the first time moving up a weight and challenging a world champion to boot.
So I think that shows what type of a guy Ricky Hatton is and I think (INAUDIBLE) you know the fight should end – the fighters you fought – you know the wars you mean you’ve – I mean I had a great win with Tszyu and that was cast as one of the greatest British wins in a British ring.
So, you know going along the same names of Donald Curry and stuff like that so but I think all the great champions of old like my heroes Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, people like that they’ve all had five or six fights like the Tszyu fight.
So as well as I’ve done so far now I’m still not happy with what I’ve achieved so far. I expect 2005 was a good one, you know, with all the achievements of one. I except next year to be better because that’s what you want to do you I think the minute you start being satisfied with what you have achieved that’s when you get beat and I’m not ready for getting beat yet.
So hopefully in years to come I’d like – I’d like to be up there with some of the best names that British boxing has had and you know obviously if I can beat Floyd Mayweather who’s on the top of the pound for pound rankings and then hopefully maybe go down in the United States history books but only time will tell.
But I think that is what makes a good champion by the people you run against, your regularity, you know, and the way you conduct yourself outside the ring as well. There’s no point in being the greatest fighter in the world if everybody thinks you’re a dickhead you know. So …
TIM GRAHAM: You rattled off those names as if you had answered that question once or twice before. At least you thought about it quite a bit as to what defines greatness and what – you know what you want to. Do you think about that quite a bit?
RICKY HATTON: No, not really. It’s just – I think its common sense really. (INAUDIBLE) you know by fighting the best – you know fighting regular, you know fighting in Britain, fighting in the United States, showing you’re not scared of The States – ‘cause I could have stayed in Manchester and boxed in front of 22,000 you know, and, you know, in a bit of a comfort zone if you like because Manchester was a bit of a fortress now.
You know, so, well you know it’s by choice of whether to come over to the states. You know nobody said, you know, we’re going to The States. I was the one who made that decision and I think that’s what – you know little things like that make the difference in being a good champion and a great champion.
TIM GRAHAM: Most of a fighter’s legacy I think common sense is dependent on what he does in the ring and how he goes about his career but at least a small portion is based on what the fans think of him. Wouldn’t you agree with that and how much do you think it is on the fans to actually give somebody credit for a legacy?
RICKY HATTON: Yes. Yes. I mean the love of the fans is priceless and every time I fight I grab the mic and I thank the fans in Manchester for coming to support me because, you know, without the fans (INAUDIBLE) there would be no sports like that. There would be no champion and no soccer stars, no tennis star. There would be no champion.
So, it means a lot what the fans think of me and it’s like, Muhammad Ali, he was a champion in the ring and he was a champion out of the ring. He could inspire anybody in any profession, and that’s what a champion is all about and it’s a fight for the people walking around that Ricky Hatton is one hell of a fighter but (INAUDIBLE) own ass type thing.
You know it cripples me really. It means a lot what the people and the fans think and I think I’m liked so far so good in the ring in what I’ve done and achieved and I’d like to think that (INAUDIBLE) because that’s the way I act outside the ring and that’s the way it should be.
BEN COHEN, SECONDSOUT.COM: Ricky just wanted to get your thoughts on Mayweather’s win over Zab Judah. What did you think about the fight?
RICKY HATTON: It wasn’t a bad performance but I think it wasn’t – certainly wasn’t, you know, a great one. And you know I think that (INAUDIBLE) half way stage. There really wasn’t much in it. I think although Zab never hurt Floyd I think he should have been favored and scored for the knock down.
But you know by the – by the mid way mark I don’t think there was much in the fight. If anything maybe Judah had his nose inflamed but (INAUDIBLE) I don’t know I think it was half Floyd Mayweather winning the fight and half Zab Judah losing it because – I don’t know, I might be wrong and I hope Zab didn’t think this, when I say this ‘I got to the half way stage and so I’m feeling pretty good, you know, I’m happy with that.’
It’s sort of like – you know it was (INAUDIBLE) what had gone up until that point but I think if he had grabbed the bull by the horns and gone for that a bit more who knows? But I don’t think it was – it was – you certainly couldn’t say it was a bad performance.
I mean Zab Judah – to beat Zab Judah like that is ultimately very, very impressive but I mean from – obviously I’m one of Floyd’s rivals, it doesn’t exactly make me, quake in me boots.
But you know – you know it was a – it was a – you know it was good performance. You know we have – some times we have great performance sometimes we have off nights and sometimes we have mediocre performances and I think that’s what it was.
BEN COHEN: Did that fight give you a better idea of what weight you would prefer to fight Mayweather at?
RICKY HATTON: Not really. Not really. I’m not really bothered; you know to be perfectly honest with you. I think Floyd – I don’t think Floyd is the biggest welterweight; in fact I don’t think he’s the biggest junior welterweight so I don’t, you know – I don’t think it would make much difference what weight we fought. Floyd (INAUDIBLE) ground, you know, like Zab Judah and Sharmba Mitchell, Chop Chop Corley, Arturo Gatti did it.
You know I think the only person that is even remotely tried to get on the (INAUDIBLE) is Castillo and he pushed him quite close really but …
I think Floyd deserves to be ranked pound for pound the best in the world. Obviously (INAUDIBLE) keeps getting beat and (INAUDIBLE) getting beat (INAUDIBLE) Floyd’s got different ways he probably deserves to be that number one spot, you know, (INAUDIBLE) and somebody like that.
But I think, you know, Floyd beat Corrales when Corrales was fighting at super featherweight and drained and can be quite easy to hit which was (INAUDIBLE) talents. I think Sharmba Mitchell has seen better days. I think Chop Chop Corley is a good fighter but he’s not quite the same league. I think Zab Judah just – I saw that fight from the midway just give up really, you know, or ran out of gas or whatever.
But generally I think, you know, the only person to push – even remotely push Floyd on the mat is Castillo and he went at him and put him on the back foot a little bit more and didn’t give him time to use his speed and ability and maybe that’s the way to go but we’ll have to wait and see.
But you know I certainly won’t be running away from him when we do that fight. But yes, I don’t think – I mean it was – it wasn’t a great performance against Zab Judah but it wasn’t a bad one.
BEN COHEN: How does this fight with Collazo prepare you for somebody like Mayweather?
RICKY HATTON: A little bit. I mean Collazo’s a southpaw while Mayweather’s orthodox but yes, Floyd can fight up close, Floyd can fight at distance, you know, a little like Collazo can. You know it showed (INAUDIBLE) when he won the title against (INAUDIBLE).
You know we can dig deep, we can dig out but Zab was the applauding type, you know, a bit one paced and a little bit one wild, you know, not much boxing ability all right. You know with me he’s going to get somebody who’s going to come take a shot box, boxing ability and also take it to him as – you know as well who is a damn site quicker, better foot work and, you know, hits a lot harder.
So, ultimately show, you know, he’s a very good fighter and one where it’s probably difficult to go against but I’m very confident that’s what I’ll do. I’ll look good.
JOE TESSITORE, ESPN: Hey, you know you’re such a fan friendly fighter, just curious when you sit back and watch fights on TV who are the fighters now a days that you say to yourself I like watching this guy fight or I’d pay to watch this guy fight?
RICKY HATTON: I’m a big fan of Barrera, you know, because he’s a very, very clever to think in fights so he can make sure all (INAUDIBLE), he can box as well. Really do have a lot of time for Barrera.
It’s hard to say off the top of my head you know. Barrera is one of these fighters who is very, very exciting to watch but he doesn’t just – you know he doesn’t run – he doesn’t run away although he can box. He doesn’t just stand there and go toe to toe although he can do so.
He’s very versatile and he can make a fight as easy as he wants to or as hard as he wants to but he can do pretty much everything and that’s what fans like to see. They like to see a lot of talent, a lot of boxing ability and also they like to see some smoke coming (INAUDIBLE) and I think that’s what Barrera does.
There’s a lot of great fighters. I think I admire Winky Wright, although he’s probably not the most exciting fighter in the world technically he’s absolutely fantastic. I think Luis Collazo tries to do a little bit of that. You know he likes to get them elbows in low below the inside, choke up (INAUDIBLE) and sometimes he’s very hard to hit but when Winky …
But yes, I mean at least I’m a big fan of Barrera and I think the heavyweight division is pretty – you know, pretty weak. You know at the minute I don’t really watch too much heavyweight boxing but if I had to pick a fighter in the world who I really most admired at the moment I would say Marco Antonio Barrera. Yes.
MIKE HOUSER: Ricky I spoke with Bruce Trampler of Top Rank, Mayweather’s now former promoter. He said that you turned down the fight with Mayweather at least twice this year and that you would not be facing him this year. Is that correct?
RICKY HATTON: Well, me personally it wasn’t done but I mean I can’t be speaking for their – you know for my team or – to be honest this year it would be stupid to admit with a fight with Mayweather because I have so many problems with – problems outside the ring where my father promoted (INAUDIBLE) obviously we were sitting trying to do a deal with HBO.
I was in negotiations with that when my current promoter and he’s my new promoter, you know, from Artie Pelullo, Robert Waterman and Dennis Hobson. He was who had the court case with Souleymane M’Baye was claiming (INAUDIBLE) fight. There were so many things going on and it’s been difficult to – you know to basically get on with the fighting so to speak, you know, with the negotiations.
But I think the sensible thing is, you know, I’ve – I don’t think that when I come straight out of England and fight in the first time in America and fight Floyd Mayweather, you know. To be perfectly honest with you I think that would be a stupid thing to do.
I mean for instance Floyd Mayweather, you know, said on many occasions a few years back he would come to Manchester and he would fight me in front of me own crowd and he would knock me out and do all this crap what he’s been saying and now he’s all of a sudden decided – seems a bit cautious (INAUDIBLE) and don’t – during – over the last 12 months he didn’t want to come to Manchester.
So, you know, if I was going to be (INAUDIBLE), you know, maybe he don’t want to fight me. He said he was going to come to Manchester now he’s changed his mind. So I’m not inviting Floyd. Floyd’s not inviting me. You know and I had a lot going on in the last 12 months but me and Floyd will get it together. So I’ll fight everybody once but I think – you know I have not fight in the United States for a number of years now so I think it’s important that I’ve done my deal now with my new promoters and we’re with HBO and we know what direction we’re going.
Hopefully the court case with my (INAUDIBLE) promoter with (INAUDIBLE) – will get squashed and the case with Souleymane M’Baye and then you know we can start looking about positive things like a fight with Mayweather but it’s a been a difficult 12 months for me and …
I mean I’m not saying that, you know, my feet have turned down a fight with Mayweather it may be that (INAUDIBLE) answer for them but there been a little bit confusion, you know, over lately what me team would be. You know, I’ve just only just recently signed with HBO and Dennis Hobson and Robert Waterman of Fight Academy and Art Pelullo of banner Promotions and it’s nice to know what direction you’re going in.
I think you need to know what direction you’re going in before you can make a decision like on a fight with Mayweather.
MIKE HOUSER: Fair enough Ricky. And quick question for you here, which matters more the belts out there and the mandatory contenders or whatever you want to call voluntary, mandatory whatever or the fight itself?
Are you more interested in fighting the fight you want to fight or the belt?
RICKY HATTON: Well, I think the fight really but ultimately, you know, if have a sweat below the winner title I think titles should be won and lost, you know, in the ring and unfortunately I couldn’t make the – my mandatory defense but I understand the reason there on that because the mandatory was a fight – there are (INAUDIBLE) you know a decent enough fighter. He’s probably not, you know, particularly well known in the United States, you know, and that’s where I’m going to be based now.
That’s where, you know, that’s the deal I signed with the American TV network, HBO and stuff like that. So, well, ultimately I think everybody knows who’s the best in the division. You know if I had – you know I gave up the IBF belt but I’ll still have the WBA belt and The Ring belt if you like but I think more importantly in being cautious who has the number one rating in the division and I think if I had no belts still I would be the man to beat in the division.
You know but I’m not sure I would lose them in the ring (INAUDIBLE) with it because those fighters (INAUDIBLE) look for it, you know, and it’s, you know, sometimes it’s not like nice but I think the fight, you know, is probably – you know, the fighters – the fight or the fighter is probably more important but (INAUDIBLE) with champion who has just gone 12 hard rounds and I won a world title.
MIKE HOUSER: Good enough. Final question for you, we in America don’t know you as well the British. You could probably recite all your particulars. Who are you out of the ring on? Who’s Rick Hatton? Gives us a – give us a brief …
RICKY HATTON: Who am I? I am a happy go lucky type – you know kid who’s a strag off nobody. You know No difference for the money. My crowd, I keep my feet on the ground; I’ve got time for people. I you know, I think people like me not only because of me – you know me exciting style, you know, my body polishing, you know, go for the (INAUDIBLE).
I think it also has a lot to do with, you know, my personality as well. You know so yes, I’m – you know what you see is what you get really. You know and what you see is what you get on May 13th. You know a lot of fire works I think.
JORGE PEREZ, EL NUEVO DIA: One question, before you agreed to fight with Collazo there were some stories that supposedly some members in your camp didn’t like the fight or didn’t approve the fight and later they changed their mind. Was that true?
RICKY HATTON: Yes, a little bit. You know obviously I had a mandatory defense coming up and obviously that was a fight we would prefer because obviously that was the belt in which I won against Kostya Tszyu and I didn’t want to give it away but obviously we understood, you know, that my fight was going to be on HBO and in America so we needed an opponent which was a little bit more of an American name.
You know, obviously I couldn’t do my mandatory which was disappointing. We were searching for several opponents, Luis Collazo was one of them but you know from a debut in a America who would be the last person you want, you know, to look for is, you know, a speedy, a southpaw, somebody who is potentially pretty difficult to look good against but his fight against Rivera was probably one of the best fights of the year.
But yes, I think it’s just nobody really goes looking for a southpaw, not that I’m afraid of fighting southpaw, I’ll fight several of them in me career and I’m not sure I’m going to always win against them it’s just maybe we were probably – you know you want your first fight in America to be a spectacle.
You know you want people to go away remembering your first fight in America. So, probably it wasn’t style wise, probably wasn’t the first choice opponent but obviously a few fighters got injured, a few fighters weren’t suited for television, a few fighters priced themselves out a bit.
So ultimately, you know, we ended up going for Luis Collazo and I think its going to be one hell of a fight. Just because it wasn’t my first choice just don’t go looking for somebody who’s as tricky and as awkward and, you know, a southpaw like maybe Collazo is for his first (INAUDIBLE) be in America.
GEORGE PEREZ: Sure. OK. Lastly, I haven’t heard Miguel Cotto being mentioned in the mix as a possible future opponent for you. Is that a possibility do you think?
RICKY HATTON: Yes. I think so. You know, obviously even though I’m moving up to welterweight and I hope that that will do me very well in Collazo but I’ve also said that I’d, you know, be happy to come back down to junior welterweight if a decent enough fight – a better fight was offered to me there.
So obviously, you know, (INAUDIBLE) as I said earlier become a great champion, you know, by fighting great champions and, you know Miguel Cotto is that and also styles make fights and I don’t think you have to be cleverest fight fan to realize what sort of fight you get with me and Cotto …
GEORGE PEREZ: Sure.
RICKY HATTON: That’s a fight – that’s a fight I would jump at and it would be an honor to share the ring with him because I am a fight fan. I’m a big Cotto fan. I think anybody who is a Miguel Cotto fan is a fight fan.
GEORGE PEREZ: And he may be moving up in weight soon also.
RICKY HATTON: Yes. So, if he moves up in weight than I can fight him at welterweight or light welter weight.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Your next question is from Eddie Goldman of “SecondsOut Radio.” Sir you may begin your question.
EDDIE GOLDMAN, SECONDSOUT RADIO: Can you tell us everything you’ve gone through in the last year with the changes in promoters and all the legal cases did you expect about a year ago that you were going to get fighter of the year especially being the first America – non America to be named by these American organizations?
RICKY HATTON: No. It’s a huge, huge honor for me you know. You know (INAUDIBLE) world fighter wasn’t, you know, one thing but to beat somebody like Kostya Tszyu it all has to do – I think at the time he was ranked the second best pound for pound fighter on the planet, you know, so that was, you know, a fantastic – unifying the junior welterweight title immediately by beating Carlos Maussa.
And so when the BWAA award and also the “The Ring” magazine award won with not yet having the opportunity to fight on American soil yet I think just makes that, you know, extra special,
So I think it was very fitting that I won them awards, you know, just as I’m about to make my debut in the United States and hopefully, you know, can (INAUDIBLE) in the United States where, you know, I prove that I was, you know, a worthy winner and I deserved the accolades.
There’s no point in having these awards and then getting knocked on your ass immediately straight after. So, you know, it’s better for – it’s very, very important for me to go out there and prove that everybody who voted for me was right to do so type thing.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Now in moving up from 140 to welterweight do you think – what do you think that’s going to do for you power? In other words you’re going to have to cut less weight but you’re going to be fighting bigger guys. Do you think it’s going to help your power since that’s one of the attributes that you’re known for?
RICKY HATTON: Yes. I mean obviously I think I’ve kept my speed in the gym and I think it’s made me more quicker and explosive because obviously I’ve been doing more weight training. I’ve lost the same amount of body fat but held on to – you know just hold on to more muscle.
And a stronger muscle makes it become more explosive and stuff like that. My sparring and my training has been better than it’s ever been and that might be down (INAUDIBLE) improve it but it might be brought down by that little bit of extra weight program – that weight training program. A little bit of extra nutrition with not having to fatigue myself pretty much to get down to 140.
Obviously the men are going to be a lot, lot bigger but yes, I mean I’ll only know whether I can perform that well at welterweight when the bell goes but I mean if I’m going off what has happened in the gym so far I would say I will be better and even stronger at welterweight. It really is something to be said for that spinach.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: And in picking Collazo as an opponent how important was it that he held this WBA title?
RICKY HATTON: Yes, I mean I’ve obviously said that should I win the fight – I mean when I win the fight I should say I haven’t stressed any desire to, say that I’m going to stay at welterweight. You know I’ll stay at welterweight or if I’ve got a great fight at junior welterweight I will come back down. So obviously just the – with so many great fighters going up to welterweight if anything is to prove to me so far I can be good and strong and bigger at welterweight by winning a fight obviously will make – excuse me – more to bring to the table for negotiations when we’re trying to get the fights of the likes of Mayweather or Gatti or people like that.
But yes, I think it is clear to see what they think (INAUDIBLE) so many great fighters moving up to welterweight but I’m not – I’m not going to turn around and commit myself to welterweight because I could do both weights and I’m more interested in what the best fight is offered to me.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Yes. Would you want to unify these belts after this fight to the winner of the Gatti-Baldomir fight that’s going to have the WBC belt? I don’t know what the IBF is up to but the fans really as you know want to see one champion and with all the different bodies it sometimes gets very confusing for them.
RICKY HATTON: Yes, well, as soon as I win – beat Collazo to win the WBA belt that’s the first thing I want to do is try and unify the belts and that’s what I did after I beat Tszyu.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Yes.
RICKY HATTON: Yes, I mean, you know, obviously, you know, it depends on the television network what fights they have in the pipeline depends – I’ve got to sit down with my people (INAUDIBLE) and see you know what the best move for Ricky Hatton from here and then. If the best move is a unification match obviously I’ve got a belt (INAUDIBLE) to be able to do so.
So very exciting plans for me to be on HBO but yes, I mean, you know, I’ve become the jr. welterweight champion, that was number one, you know, in beating Kostya Tszyu and then unified the belts also at junior welterweight which will show that I’m not scared of doing that and …
Yes, you know, moving up to welterweight I – you know I want to try and beat the best at the welterweight as well.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: All right. Do you want to make a prediction for May 13th?
RICKY HATTON: No. I don’t like making predictions really because I’v never done that in my whole career so I’m not going to start now. One thing is I predict a good fight, a tricky fight, a very tough fight. I think Collazo’s got an awkward style and that but I’m – yes, I think it’s going to be a good, tough fight and I want to know for me self really.
I mean I’m not taking Collazo lightly and I’m not looking past him and I’m not looking to a future Mayweather fight or a Cotto fight so you know I’ve only got one thing on my mind – Collazo. and, you know, my IBF belt, my WBA belt, my Ring belt they’re all going to be left in Manchester because I’m going to come over to The States and I’m not coming to show off my belts. I’ve come to take his belt.
TRAE THOMPSON: This is for Ricky Hatton the fight fan. You mentioned Barrera earlier what were your opinion of watching that history fights with Morales?
RICKY HATTON: Absolutely fantastic. I went to the – for the second fight when Marco fought Morales, absolutely fantastic you know and to be honest a lot of people say that, you know, the fight (INAUDIBLE) and we don’t have the same amount of fights.
To be honest I think that’s a load of crap, you know, because I think (INAUDIBLE) Marco Antonio Barrera against Erik Morales was absolutely fantastic. You’ve got Ward, Gatti, you’ve got Corrales, Castillo, you know – God you know some of them are some of the best fights of our time really.
You know so, you know – you can’t speak more highly. I’m a big Barrera fan. I’m a big Morales fan and those are the types of fights, you know, you can win all the belts really but if you’ve not been in the – after a few fights like that you’re not going to be remember are you. So at the end of the day those are – maybe deaf to say so but those are fights you want to be involved in and I hope I’m involved in a few more because, you know, that’s what I like.
RICKY HATTON: Well, I hope everybody’s practicing Blue Moon.
FRED STERNBURG: Luis, welcome to the call. Tell us how training is going and what you expect to find in the ring against Ricky Hatton on May 13.
LUIS COLLAZO: Well, I'm feeling good actually right now. Like anybody knows I'm just expecting a lot of pressure and basically that's it.
ALAN HOPPER: OK and Fred, Luis is joined by his longtime manager and trainer, Nirmal Lorick. If anybody has any questions for him as well.
JASON GONZALES, FIGHTNEWS.COM: Luis, you been – you sparred over 400 rounds since you've been in camp. Originally you were supposed to fight Oktay Urkal obviously that got postponed. Now, against Ricky Hatton, is there ever – is there any possibility that you might have over-trained for this fight?
LUIS COLLAZO: Definitely not because every time a fight fell through, we only took like two or three days off and no, I just kept training and we didn’t change nothin'. And once we finalized the Ricky Hatton fight, we just picked it up. A different – you know back to regular training.
JASON GONZALES: My next question's for Nirmal. Nirmal, Luis is one of the mentally tougher fighters I've seen in some time. What do you think has contributed to his tough psychological grit?
NIRMAL LORICK: I think it's from him growing up as kid in Brooklyn and being in the gym listening to the right people. I mean, me and Ruby been together he never – it's not disrespect, I think it's just that at times he's a nice guy in boxing, but they don't know how tough he is under that, you know, and they take that lightly at times and I think Luis – a lot of it is contributed to his father, upbringing and you know, the family. All of us like family, you know what I mean, his father, his brothers, you know, there's a lot of people that help Luis mental him to where he at. And Luis's tough, but you know, he came from nowhere to somewhere now. And I don’t think he ready to go back.
JASON GONZALES: And my last two questions, Nirmal. Luis saw himself in Don King's office a few months ago and he signed six contracts – (INAUDIBLE), Mosley, Margarito, Cotto, Mayweather. Do you think if you guys hadn't done that, would you be fighting Ricky Hatton now?
NIRMAL LORICK: Well you know, I don't think nobody took us as serious as – I want to say Ricky took it serious, I think he just was forced a little bit into this fight because HBO probably wanted a better opponent than they was looking for.
And Luis got an opportunity to show what he got. And this is Luis's time to shine. I – you know, I spoke to Luis over the weekend – as a matter of fact, I spoke to him today after the we – signed a contract for Ricky and he said, “Nirm, don't worry about nothing, I got this.” You know what I'm saying, so whenever he tells me that, I don't worry I just go ahead and do my part, he does his and he ain't got to worry about nobody. Everything that could be blamed is on me or people – as far as like whatever people want to say, they talk to me. I don’t, you know, Luis has nothin' like to distract him and he gives me that respect and I give him respect and we have that, you know, communication with each other and I think at this point right now, if we didn't do that, none of this would have been possible because at this point right now, Luis never had a easy fight.
We just took whatever was given to us. We never turned down a fight, we never had the option to, you know, really turn down a fight, so at this point, we just want to – whoever is next – like I said, I'm confident that Luis's going to win this fight because we've been the underdog all our life. Ricky is – he has had the money, he's made big fights and I think they underestimated Luis this year too, because Luis beat a great fighter in Gonzales, who was one of the legends, you know. And they talking about (INAUDIBLE), they talking about Luis – Luis was in the fight of the year and beat a legend which should have been like considered for fighter of the year.
You know, I'm very disappointed in that. That the media hasn't really took Luis serious and I hope in this fight here Luis God damn proved them, that you know, you guys look past me, not only the fighters, but also the sport writers in the game, you know and Jay, you been one of his supporters and I got to give you, you know that credit because you know, you've seen Luis grow up and there's a few other people, you know, in Puerto Rico and all over really been supporting Luis through the media and this fight here is to establish Luis in America. I don't think Ricky's going to come here and have a easy fight with Luis because he has trained real hard, over five months, so we going to let it all hang that night.
JASON GONZALES: Nirmal, do you think Ricky Hatton is overlooking Luis Collazo and looking towards Floyd Mayweather?
NIRMAL LORICK: I can't really say that because Ricky, you know, from the way he sounded at the press conference and hearing him speak, I think he knows he's in a fight. He was pushing to this fight, so I guess he's training. I don’t know the sparring partners he has or whatever, but there's only one Luis Collazo out there right now. You know, I mean, he compared him to a few fighters, who's like respectable and I – Luis is Luis. I seen Luis do some things from the age 15 to now and when he was 12.
He has grown so much mentally, physically and I think now he's ready, you know, he's listening to everything I say and at the end of the day he goes in the gym and he execute everything in his sparring, so hopefully you know, that night he will be there because we was in the – when we won the title in Wooster, that was the – that was just a showing that we wasn't even in our hometown and these people was booing us and hopefully now they've turned and become his fans, you know, because at the end of the night they was happy with Luis performance and everybody thought he won. So I hopefully, at the end of the night we'll be successful and we'll be defending our fight against somebody else.
JASON GONZALES: And Luis, do you feel he's overlooking you and looking towards Floyd Mayweather?
LUIS COLLAZO: Well, let's (INAUDIBLE) the media keeps telling (INAUDIBLE) I believe so. It's a big money fight, I don't blame him, but he can't overlook me. A lot of people did that in the past and look – but that doesn't change anything from my training, it just keeps me motivated. If that's what he is doing, I hope not, but come May 13, I'm going to go in there, do what I do and ready to shock the world.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: And you know this fight is really set up on TV in the U.S. and HBO to showcase Ricky Hatton's coming in with the Fighter of the Year Award which I think he deserved. Does that give you any advantage that all the attention is going to be on him and perhaps he, you know, is taking this fight a little bit too lightly and that you may be able to do something by being overlooked?
LUIS COLLAZO: Well, no, nothing changes. It's just I'm going to go in there and just you know, give it 110 percent like I always do and if he is overlooking me, that's his fault. I don’t have nothing to do with that. And like I said, I'm just – I'm always the underdog. It motivate – it gives me the aspiration, it motivates me and I'm going to take this to another level and make (INAUDIBLE) a lot of – a lot of people's going to be in shock.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Now, how are you going to approach him, because again, I know when you fought Jose Rivera last year and Worcester, Rivera's hometown, a few people outside of your own camp gave you much of a chance to win and of course you won and you got the title at that point. What can we expect specifically that you can reveal to us anyway, about how you're going to approach Hatton in the ring. Because he's the fighter that people have seen better and by the way, we still haven't seen that fight on American TV. The one that you had last year with Rivera.
LUIS COLLAZO: Actually, nothing's going to change. I'm just going to be myself. The only thing I'm going to change – my conditioning. Now, I'm 110 percent, before I only had two weeks of training for that fight and it going to be totally different – it be fireworks. So, just don't miss it. It's going to be a great fight.
ALAN HOPPER: Luis, you're somewhat of a gym rat, aren't you? Is that the reason you were able to come in on two weeks notice. You're one of those guys that stays in the gym and enjoys training, right?
LUIS COLLAZO: Oh, definitely. That's – that is my job right here. It's a full time job, it's not part time. A lot of people have fights and take two, three, four months off. No, I just take a week off and be right back in the gym.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Do you think the weight will play much of a factor since he's now moving up from 140 to 147?
LUIS COLLAZO: It might be. But, like I said, I'm just going in there, give it my all and like I've done in the past and there's nothing changing. He just better bring his A game.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Do you expect – do you expect this fight to go the distance?
LUIS COLLAZO: That's what I've trained for – to go the distance. I don't predict nothing, all I predict is coming out with the victory.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: He said that – earlier that he walks around, I think he said around about 168 so moving up from 140 or 147 actually could increase his power, but he also is going to be facing, you know, somebody who's been fighting at that weight for a while. Tell us what you think it might do – what the effect will be on the weight. In other words are you going to be coming in as a bigger man against him.
LUIS COLLAZO: Probably so. I'm naturally, you know, a real welterweight and he's really a junior welterweight and it going to play a big factor, cause when he gains weight after the weigh ins, it's going to be nothing but fat. And I'm just going – just go – it's going to be natural for me. But it's nothing. It might play a factor, it might not, but I'm going to go in there 177 ready to go.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: What should we be looking for since a lot of people are not as familiar with you – you know, not again, the Rivera fight was no televised in the U.S. and a lot of people haven't seen that many of your fights. What should we be particularly looking at in terms of who you are as a fighter?
LUIS COLLAZO: Something that's slick, fast hands, good condition and pretty.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: That's good. And from Brooklyn, too.
LUIS COLLAZO: Yes, sir and not only that, but a Puerto Rican – the first new Puerto Rican that Ricky fought.
EDDIE GOLDMAN: Wow, OK. Do you want to make a prediction on this fight?
LUIS COLLAZO: Coming out with the victory.
KARL FREITAG: I was wondering if the situation with – if you've heard anything on the situation with Oktay Urkal and if the WBA has sanctioned this fight yet?
ALAN HOPPER: Karl, it's Alan Hopper. I know it's still under discussion. We don't know yet.
KARL FREITAG: Alright, thanks.
ALAN HOPPER: Unless Luis and his handlers have any more information. I checked and that's what I know. Do you know anything Nirmal?
NIRMAL LORICK: No, Don hasn't said anything. I know they're still working on that and hopefully by this week or the end of the week something should be worked out because Urkal has been ducking Luis for the longest anyway. We been scheduled to fight him three times and he has been running, so why even – you know why even go there. They should just sanction the fight with Ricky and let us do our job.
FRED STERNBURG: If I could ask one last question unless Alan wants to jump in with something real quick. Luis with a victory on May 13 over Hatton, what would you like to do next? What would be your next major fight or major goal you'd like to accomplish or go after?
LUIS COLLAZO: Basically, right now I don't have no plans. I – this is the fight I'm really concerned about – this is the biggest fight of my life and this is the fight I want. I don't aim – worry about no other fights right now.
ALAN HOPPER: Luis, for the people weren't at the press conference, you were very clear. We actually sent out a press release later that stated that you said, “Hatton picked the wrong guy.” You're a student of the sport, can you explain to the boxing writers why you believe Ricky Hatton picked the wrong guy for his first fight in America since 2000?
LUIS COLLAZO: Oh, definitely. You know, like (INAUDIBLE) especially moving 147 pounds. I'm slick, I'm fast, I got good feet movement, I'm a south paw, I'm young and I'm not (INAUDIBLE). I know everybody been talking about the big (INAUDIBLE) as a champion and 140 pounds and (INAUDIBLE) moving up to welterweight and he's not even – he's overlooking me and come May 13, like it said, I'm ready to shock the world and a lot of people probably don't believe me, but big – back home where I'm at in Brooklyn, they call me the Showstopper. Cause I'm always ruining shows. Come May 13, I'm going to ruin plans not shows, plans and this I hope you there or not just tune in to HBO May 13.
ALAN HOPPER: OK and also, obviously Ricky Hatton's being groomed for great things. A lot of people, like you say, have a lot of plans for him. You know, the fight's in Boston, — close to Manchester where some people can come over and support him. How do you respond to that?
LUIS COLLAZO: Oh, that's beautiful. You know, fans are fans. Fans are going to go anywhere to support their – to support their fighter. And I'm going to have a lot of people. I fought in Worcester last year. I believe it's 45 minutes away from Boston and I believe at the end of the night, I won some fans over and hopefully they come over, but anywhere in the United States is my home. Now, he's not at home. He's from the U.K. He's from England and anywhere in the United States is my home, so doesn’t matter where I fight in the states..
FRED STERNBURG: Just a reminder to all the media here. It's Ricky Hatton against WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo, Saturday, May 13. It's going to be broadcast live on HBO at 9:45 P.M. east coast, 6:45 P.M. west coast, from the T.D. Bank North Garden in Boston and look forward to seeing everybody out there.