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Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 07:12 GMT
Hatton's battle with the bulge
Ricky Hatton and trainer Billy Graham
Ricky Hatton works out with trainer Billy Graham in his Manchester gym

By Alistair Magowan

Although he claims that Ricky Hatton is like a Buddhist monk while in training, there must be times when Kerry Kayes looks at him in despair.

The former bodybuilder, who is in charge of Hatton's diet and strength training, works in tandem with trainer Billy Graham to turn the takeaway-loving Mancunian into a prize fighter.

But although Kayes has been working with Hatton for years, he knows he is always in for a shock the day Hatton rocks up for his first session in the lead-up to a big fight.

"The worst condition he has turned up in was 40lb overweight," Kayes told BBC Sport.

"Ricky had four fights in 2004 and because he yo-yoed up and down he lost more than his own body weight over the year.

"The first few weeks he works with me more than Billy because I've got to get him in some sort of condition that Billy can work with."

If people made Ricky become a Buddhist monk 52 weeks of the year, my guess is he would have probably retired by now

Hatton's strength coach Kerry Kayes

Hatton's knowledge of the local nightlife and takeaway scene has led some tabloids to call him "Ricky Fatton", a dig at his shape when not in training.

His fluctuating weight is amply illustrated by a picture which adorns his Denton gym of a portly Hatton sat next to late comedian Bernard Manning, both decked out with dressing gowns and cigars.

Whether it serves as a reminder of what lies ahead once his gruelling training schedule is over, it is an image in stark contrast to the chiselled champion who is primed to take on Floyd Mayweather.

The bout for the WBC welterweight title on 8 December will be the second time Hatton has stepped up from his usual light-welterweight level of 140lb.

In his previous encounter at 147lb, Hatton almost came unstuck before narrowly beating Luis Collazo on points, and it later emerged that Hatton had been tucking into the odd takeaway in a bid to bulk out his frame.

But Kayes is well aware of the lessons learned and says 12 weeks of preparation will ensure Hatton is in the best condition of his life this time around.

Hatton after the fight with Luis Collazo
Hatton after his last welterweight fight, with Luis Collazo

The question remains, however, as to whether he could be even better if he stopped letting everything go quite so dramatically between fights.

Kayes has no doubt the 29-year-old would be an improved fighter if he avoided the marathon benders he is renowned for.

But he claims Hatton's method of unwinding, although unconventional in the professional sporting world, has actually extended his career.

"Everything is made about 'Ricky Fatton' and how he goes to excess when he's not in the gym and that's true, he loves his takeaways, he loves his beer and he loves his partying," says Kayes.

"But the day he starts training he's a pleasure to work with because he takes it very seriously, he's a great student and he does everything properly.

"Ricky's an extreme human being and when there's a fight there's immense pressure.

"But when the fight is over Ricky pleases himself mentally. Then when he's fed up of that he pleases himself physically and I think they both go hand in hand.


"It will shorten his career but Billy [Graham] doesn't want him fighting past 30 anyhow. Billy wants him to get out of this sport intact.

"If people made Ricky become a Buddhist monk 52 weeks of the year, my guess is he would have probably retired by now."

While Graham deals with workouts in the ring, Kayes is the lead man when it comes to the weight room.

He says that weightlifting has allowed Hatton to hit harder than ever, something that paid dividends in his last fight against Jose Luis Castillo when Hatton knocked the wind out of the 33-year-old Mexican with the perfect body shot.

"If you have more explosive power you're going to hit harder and I think we've proved that with Ricky," says Kayes.

"If only Ricky was a weightlifter, I swear I could get him a world title in 18 months. He is a very strong kid and his leverage is suited to a weightlifter.

Ricky Hatton and Jose Luis Castillo
Hatton lands the decisive blow against Jose Luis Castillo

"Strength is probably more important to his style of boxing than most boxers because he likes to work in close and push and shove and rag the opponent about, so weightlifting has been very good for his armoury."

Some more good news ahead of Hatton's contest in Las Vegas is the fact that Hatton will be forced to avoid his traditional pre-match diet of a fried English breakfast.

Any dietician would balk at the prospect of using bacon, eggs and sausages to prepare their athletes for peak performance.

So once the weight is made, Kayes will be keeping a watchful eye on his charge to ensure Hatton is in the ring 28 hours later "bursting full of energy" with the right food in his system.

Then, after 12 weeks' of hammering and chiselling, Kayes will witness Hatton contest the fight of his life before watching him slip into the layabout routine which has become his custom.

"To be truthful," Kayes adds, "after the fight he'll get drunk and I'll probably be giving him something Sunday morning for his hangover."

Kayes, however, is convinced the aspirin will be of the celebratory kind.

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