Ricky Hatton: Eamonn Magee fight was making of me
Eamonn Magee remembers it as the night he allowed a golden opportunity to slip through his gloves, while Ricky Hatton says it was the making of him when they clashed in Manchester 13 years ago.
Yesterday they came together at the opening of a new boxing gym in Belfast to be run by Alan Wilton and top coach Bernardo Checa and Hatton insisted that the Terminator played a key role in his development from domestic level to World champion.
"Eamonn and I had a really good chat again... the fight with Eamonn taught me a lot. He was the first guy to really irritate, to get under my skin and when I went into fight I wanted to just jump all over him but instead I jumped into a right hook and was on the deck," said Hatton, who outpointed Magee in their WBU title fight.
"But it was the best thing that happened to me because I got myself together and in the end I think I won the fight quite comfortably. Eamonn was a vicious puncher and a good boxer and coming through that fight it taught me a lot.
"Eamonn had the talent to be a world champion without a doubt because he was a tricky southpaw and he could punch but along the way you need a bit of luck."
Hatton's luck ran out when he walked into a piledriver from legend Manny Pacquiao in 2009 but last year he launched what many considered an ill-advised comeback which ended in a stoppage defeat at the hands of former world champion Vyacheslav Senchenko.
Hatton, though, insists he simply had to go through the pain to gain a sense of redemption.
"The comeback was the best thing that I ever did, it's why I am feeling so good today," he added.
"I had some very dark times after I retired the first time, I had a lot of problems. I felt that I had let everybody down, all the people who had followed me.
"But doing the comeback I felt that I got that respect back because people could see how hard I trained, the weight I lost and that I gave it everything.
"That feeling of respect from the fans was important to me because I had such a close link with my fans. So I don't regret the comeback at all, it was the best thing that I could have done and I think I have shown that because I have moved on and I'm making a success of myself as a trainer and a promoter."
As for Belfast prospect Burnett, who meets Slovakian Elemir Rafael in his second four rounder, Hatton is looking forward to a winning return to Belfast for the 21-year-old.
"I'm expecting another exciting performance. Ryan had a great pro debut, he is showing a lot of promise."