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Page last updated at 20:37 GMT, Wednesday, 30 July 2008 21:37 UK

Hatton & trainer Graham to split

Hatton (right) with trainer Billy Graham (centre)
Hatton (right) has been trained by Billy Graham (centre) for 11 years

Ricky Hatton will head into his world title clash against Paulie Malignaggi without his long-time trainer Billy Graham, his father has confirmed.

Ray Hatton said Graham, who has trained Hatton for 11 years, will retire from the sport following Ojay Abrahams's fight in Watford on Friday.

But Graham claims he was actually sacked by the Hatton team.

"If Ricky wants to finish with me it's up to him. As a result I've decided it's a good time to retire," he said.

"I'm not going to get into a slanging match with Ricky because we've been through too much together. I always said I would retire when Ricky finished and I had hoped to stick it out to the end.

"We've spent half our lives together and we've changed each other's lives.

"It's a fantastic story and I'm not going to ruin it by bad-mouthing him. I wish him all the best for his next fight."

Ray Hatton insists Graham told Ricky on Monday that he was quitting.

"Ricky and Billy had a meeting on Monday in which Billy admitted he was not going any further," said Hatton senior.

"It was quite emotional because they've been together so long. It's a sad day."

Graham took the teenage Hatton into his Salford gym and moulded him into one of the finest fighters Britain has ever produced.

Hatton's father added: "Billy will always be remembered as one of the world's great trainers and to go out after a win in front of 58,000 people in Manchester would be a fitting end to his career.

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"But everybody knew Billy had been struggling in recent years with a few health problems and it was becoming increasingly painful for him to train Ricky.

"We knew the bombshell was coming and it was just a question of when."

Hatton is now likely to be trained by Graham's assistant Lee Beard for his fight against Malignaggi and will sit down with his team to discuss a permanent replacement in due course.

Despite the split Graham said he expected to be among the crowd for Hatton's fight in Las Vegas.

"It's not over between me and Ricky just because I'm not training him any more," added Graham. "I'll be there and I'll be urging him on. I just won't be in his corner - that's the only difference."

see also
Hatton and Khan open youth gym
12 Jun 08 |  Manchester
Malignaggi test next for Hatton
29 May 08 |  Boxing
Hatton's powers on the wane
26 May 08 |  Boxing


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