By Craig Watt
For the last few years the media attention has been centred on one particular boxing brother in the Hatton household – namely former WBA welterweight and IBF, WBA and IBO light-welterweight world champion Ricky Hatton. In the background however is another boxing brother- welterweight Matthew “Magic” Hatton (37-4-1, 14 KO’s) who has built up an impressive professional resume and challenges Lovemore N’dou (47-11-1, 31 KO’s) on the 13th November in Stoke, England for the South African’s IBO welterweight title.
The development of Matthew’s career across 42 fights is now in the spotlight and he secured the shot at the IBO 147 pound title when he stopped highly fancied and former European Champion Ted Bami inside six rounds in March in an official eliminator, sanctioned by the IBO.
This winning performance came off the back of an impressive points victory in Las Vegas in November 2008 when he outscored experienced Ghanaian Ben Tackie over ten rounds winning a clear unanimous decision by scores of 97-93 and 98-92 (twice). In his last fight in May he again boxed well to defeat experienced Mexican Ernesto Zepeda, again in Las Vegas and won a unanimous decision over eight rounds. Many believe that Matthew has the boxing ability and determination to be a major force in the global welterweight picture in 2009 and beyond.
For those people who has not seen Matthew fight he is a come-forward fighter with some excellent boxing skills and not afraid to mix it for the boxing fans. What has impressed in his recent fights has been his boxing skills using his jab and movement to achieve effective results as the level of opponent improves. Matthew puts this down to his new trainer Lee Beard who has been in sole charge for his last four fights and provided new impetus and guidance to the younger of the Hatton boxing brothers, known affectionately as the Klitschko’s of Manchester.
Matthew has always been at the side of elder brother Ricky in training but now roles are reversed with the 28 year old Matthew looking to secure his first world title. The fight against Lovemore N’dou is a Hatton family affair with elder brother Ricky promoting his brother under the banner of Hatton Promotions.
With just less than four weeks to go until his fight with Lovemore N’dou for the IBO title, Matthew caught up with Fightnews to discuss the preparations and thoughts on his first world title challenge.
Matthew – how is it being the younger boxing brother of Ricky?
A lot of people ask me about that question and I always say there are advantages and disadvantages. For one, I have fought in some of the major venues all over the world and generally whenever Ricky fights I tend to fight on the under card and have fought in Las Vegas a few times which is often the dream of many boxers when they set out. This experience is one reason why I have no fear in taking on such an experienced fighter such as Lovemore N’dou for my first world title shot.
Many people have seen a major change in your fortunes since Lee Beard became your full time trainer – is this correct?
Definitely. When I fought Craig Watson in May 2008 I had told my girlfriend before the fight that win, lose or draw I was going to split from trainer Billy Graham. Perhaps this was one of the downsides of being Ricky’s brother in that we have always trained together and by the time his fight with Juan Lazcano came along there was only two of us in the gym and Ricky was getting most of Billy’s time. After the loss to Craig Watson for the Commonwealth Title I stook to my word and linked up with Lee on a full time basis. This extra dedicated time for me and the specific pad work and training has helped turn me from a come forward fighter and brawler to a box-fighter where I can box on the outside as well as mix it up in close when I need to. It is apparent that since the move I have won four on the bounce and many people believe these have been my best performances and I would agree. My career had been somewhat of a slow burner until now but now my confidence is high and I am more relaxed for the fight and that is why I am so confident of upsetting the odds in some way when I take on Lovemore N’dou.
People have commented that your win against Ben Tackie in November 2008 was your best performance – do you agree?
This was a big step up in opponent for me and Ben Tackie had been in with some excellent fighters over the years and had just come off a close loss to Kendall Holt so he had a good boxing pedigree. This fight showed how the work with new trainer Lee Beard had worked effectively and I was more relaxed and boxed well with good combinations. I won virtually every round on the scorecards and this win gave me great confidence.
Straight after the Ben Tackie win you took on Ted Bami in an official eliminator for the IBO welterweight title and stopped him inside six rounds with an excellent left hook to the body – this seemed another confidence boosting win.
That’s correct. Ted Bami was a European champion and despite my win against Ben Tackie I was probably the underdog for the fight but with the new Matthew and boxing style I kept my composure and when the opportunity to the body came then I finished it with a left hook that brother Ricky would have been proud of. It was this win and the official eliminator status that helped set up the title shot against N’dou.
The 13th November will be a family affair with Ricky and Hatton Promotions undertaking their first world title fight – does it seem exciting and ironic that the boxing focus in now on you?
It will be a major event for the Hatton family and important for both of us – me in the ring and Ricky as promoter of the event. We expect to fill the arena with about 3,000 fans, many traveling down from Manchester so it will be a great night of boxing for the Hatton family and a chance for me to become a world champion which has always been my dream and goal all through my career. At times I have lacked a bit of confidence and felt the pressure in the bigger fights but now with a new team, new trainer and Gareth Williams and dad Ray behind me I am so confident that I can repay that loyalty and bring the belt back to Manchester. I was quite prepared to go to South Africa to take on Lovemore N’dou but Gareth and the team were able to entice Rodney Bergman to get N’dou to come to the UK.
Lovemore N’dou has said the reason he took the fight was so he could beat up Ricky’s kid brother and then set up a fight with Ricky in 2010 – do you think he is taking you lightly?
If he does take me too lightly and with 3,000 vocal fans behind me then he will make a big mistake. I am focussed, relaxed and ready for this challenge. He went on Ricky’s website the other day and said he would beat me with one arm tied behind his back and standing on one leg with one eye shut. These are indications that he is taking me lightly and this only adds to my motivation. I don’t get involved with slanging matches with opponents but I know I am in great shape and ready to take the IBO welterweight title.
Have you seen much of N’dou in your preparation?
I saw him ringside in Manchester in May 2008 when he lost a close and split decision for the IBF light-welterweight title to Paulie Malignaggi. You have to give in credit in that he always gives a strong performance and he has never been stopped in 59 fights which shows he is a tough fighter. Not even Miguel Cotto in his prime could stop him and he will be an excellent challenge for me and an assessment of my development. I will leave no stone unturned in my preparation.
How are you sparring for N’dou – he can be quite awkward?
Your right – he can throw looping overhand rights which when you watch him fight they seem a little cumbersome but against Malignaggi he had some success. We are using Tim Coleman who is 16-1 and from Baltimore in the USA. He is a top class welterweight in his own right and is giving me some good sparring for N’dou. We have a plan for these big looping overhand rights and will be fully prepared for the fight.
What future ambitions do you hold for the sport of boxing?
I have been involved in boxing since I was 15 and been a full time professional since I was 18 and now after 42 fights I am ready to realize my dream of winning a world title. The IBO title is well recognized with current champions Wladimir Klitschko, Chad Dawson and Manny Pacquaio to name a few the belt is one of the most sought after. My career has been a bit of a slow burn at times and I have not always reached my potential but now with my new trainer, new focus and new confidence I am more relaxed and have great belief that I will be the new IBO welterweight champion on November 13th.