Hatton backing for 'champion' Khan
Updated: Thursday, 25 Apr 2013 07:07
Amir Khan goes into his latest bout this weekend with many questioning his ability to take a punch, but the Bolton light-welterweight has an ally over his suspect chin in Ricky Hatton.
Khan takes on former two-time world lightweight champion Julio Diaz at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena on Saturday, a test many are expecting the Briton to pass with flying colours given his opponent has suffered seven defeats in a 48-fight professional career.
Victory, however, is by no means assured for Khan, who has himself lost two of his last three contests and has suffered two brutal knockout defeats in his career to date.
The second of those came last year against Danny Garcia in their world title clash, with Khan controlling the pace before a left hook from the American in round three changed the course of the fight.
The 26-year-old suffered two more knockdowns in the fourth before the referee halted the action.
Khan's strategy of continuing to attack despite being under pressure was questioned in that fight - he later parted company with Freddie Roach and employed Virgil Hunter as his new trainer in a bid to become more defensively sound.
But former two-weight world champion Hatton believes his fellow Lancastrian should instead be praised for his all-action, fan-friendly style - irrespective of whether that means going out on his sword.
"He should be very, very proud. He's had a few defeats along the way, everybody's written him off but he's come back and he's proving everyone wrong and that's a champion for you," Hatton said.
"He's never had a dull fight, he takes a lot of stick over his chin but I'd rather compliment him about his chin.
"Getting hit is certainly not putting him off and he keeps coming back like any champion you'd expect to.
"I'd rather be praising him for that than knock him again."
"It's nice to be cheering Amir on from his corner now rather than be looking across the ring from him" - Ricky Hatton
Hatton had been mooted as a potential opponent for Khan several times over the years, a British blockbuster that would have left fight fans salivating.
However, the Mancunian was already on the precipice of retirement when he suffered a devastating knockout to Manny Pacquiao in May 2009 - two months before Khan won his first world title.
And while there was talk the pair could finally meet in the ring after Hatton launched his comeback last year, the 34-year-old's subsequent defeat to Vyacheslav Senchenko ended any talks once and for all, with the self-styled Hitman announcing his retirement from professional boxing immediately after that loss.
When asked if he had any regrets over not facing his domestic rival, Hatton, who catapulted himself onto the world stage with a phenomenal victory over 140lb king Kostya Tszyu in 2005 before taking on pound-for-pound greats Floyd Mayweather and Pacquiao, was defiant.
"Not really to be honest. Amir's an exciting fighter and I'm an exciting fighter and with us being British it'll always be that question of 'what if?"' Hatton added.
"When I look at what I did in my career, four world titles at two weight divisions, record crowds in Las Vegas and the City of Manchester Stadium and beating some of the best pound-for-pound fighters, I don't think I'll be worrying too much about where my career went.
"It's nice to be cheering Amir on from his corner now rather than be looking across the ring from him."