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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 17:41 GMT
Rise to the challenge for Sport Relief



By Sean Chaney

Ricky Hatton wants you to sign up for Sport Relief
Ricky Hatton wants you to sign up for the Sport Relief Mile
Ricky Hatton has told Sport Relief he would like a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, despite being well beaten in their first fight last December.

Hatton, 29, suffered a 10th-round knockout in Las Vegas, his first defeat in 44 professional encounters.

"It's a very difficult bitter pill for me to swallow losing my first fight," said light-welterweight king Hatton.

"But I would fight him again, even though he knocked me out - just with a different referee."

Hatton was well beaten by the American after 10 rounds in December but has revealed that a surprising mutual respect has developed between the two fighters.

"He has texted me a few times, and he has phoned me a few times, he wants to come over to Britain and watch one of my fights," said Hatton.

Hatton was speaking at the recording of 'A Question of Sport Relief' and explained why he wants people to sign-up for the Mile and get involved in the campaign.

"There is no better cause for a sportsman, I am really happy to show my support, I think it's as much a part of my job as what I get paid for in the ring."

The 29-year-old 'Hitman' also revealed that the brash-but-brilliant American fighter known as 'Pretty Boy Floyd' has confessed he is jealous of Hatton's huge fanbase.

"He even said to me, although I have proved I am the best, what I wouldn't give to have the love of the fans like you have," said Hatton.

"Being the way Floyd is, it must have been hard for him to give me a compliment like that, but he has certainly gone up in my estimation."

Hatton has spent the time since the brutal defeat at the MGM Grand coming to terms with the loss of his unbeaten record.

He has spoken previously about how he found himself breaking down and bursting into tears in the days following his first ever professional defeat.

Hatton has been watching the video of the fight (five or six times) but says he won't be watching it again, he has used the time since the fight to go on a safari holiday with his family.

It's hard not to conjure up images of this big beast of British boxing licking his wounds and summoning up the courage to roar again on some distant African plain.

But the healing process is now complete and Hatton seems keen to make amends for the only blemish on a career record that read an imperious 43 and 0 until that fateful night in Vegas.

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"It was a good performance, after five or six rounds I thought I was going to win the fight but I got a bit frustrated by the referee," Hatton said.

"It was break-break-break every five seconds - I never thought I would get into a fight and be scared of hitting my opponent."

Referee Joe Cortez's fussiness undeniably worked against Hatton's tactics, and cut short any attempts to get ugly with the Pretty Boy, but it would be churlish to take anything away from Mayweather's masterclass.

"I made the cardinal sin, the last thing you should do is lose your temper," Hatton added.

"I lost my rag, I lost my composure that little bit and that's the difference when you are fighting someone like Floyd.

"But there are no hard feelings. I moved up a weight division and fought the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world."

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Despite being outclassed in Las Vegas, Hatton's legions of fans will no doubt be delighted that the loveable Mancunian has come out fighting, and he is assured of a heroes' homecoming when he returns to the ring.

"I am hoping it might be at the City of Manchester Stadium in late May/early June," said Hatton. "There are loads of names in the frame - even though I lost my last fight everyone is queuing up to fight me.

"They can see my popularity, and my fan base, and everyone wants to fight me - I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing!"

Ricky Hatton was speaking at a recording of 'A Question of Sport Relief' which you can see as part of the Sport Relief Weekend on the BBC on March 14-16.



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