Belfast Telegraph

Phil Taylor: 'I wanted to go in there myself and hit him with a stool'

The darts legend, a member of Ricky Hatton's army of celebrity friends and supporters, tells of his emotions as he watched the unfolding drama from Las Vegas - reluctantly from in front of his TV rather than at the MGM Grand

I met Ricky through the darts. I did an exhibition at his mum and dad's pub and he came in with a present for me, a signed pair of boxing gloves. We've been friends ever since. He's a lovely, lovely lad. I would have been over there myself if the world championships weren't coming up. I've been to about half a dozen of his fights.

It crippled me watching Ricky go down, to be honest. When he went down that second time, I just wanted to see him get up. I think of him as my own son in some ways, and it's terrible to see someone you're that fond of get hit like that. Of course, that's boxing. As Ricky said afterwards, it's not a tickling contest. But even so, I wanted to get in there myself and hit Mayweather with a stool.

Fair play, though, he's an absolutely brilliant fighter. Real class. And whatever he said, he'd obviously done his homework on Ricky. I thought Ricky had a chance, I really did. He texted me about a week ago and he seemed very relaxed. But when he got in the ring he was maybe too keen to win, he wanted it that much, and although I don't know what was going through his mind, he seemed a little uptight to me. When you saw them both in their dressing-rooms beforehand, Mayweather was the one who looked more relaxed.

He did seem to have Mayweather slightly in trouble in that first round, though, and maybe he would have done better with a different referee. I thought the referee was a disgrace. Shouting at him in my bedroom, I was. He should never referee a match again. Something wasn't right.

Why would he keep interrupting all the time, when that's Ricky's strength, fighting close in like that?

Saying that, even when the referee let him get in close, he wasn't landing any big punches. Mayweather was very clever, turning sideways and pushing his elbows out. He knew what he had to do and did it brilliantly. Whether Ricky could have boxed cleverer I don't know. Maybe the step up in weight was a bit too much for him. He looked out of his comfort zone a little bit, but maybe that's more because he'd never fought anyone like that before.

Boxing's a bit like darts in that it's blow for blow, and you're in there on your own with no place to hide. But in boxing the only way to learn is getting thumped. Ricky will learn a lot from this experience, and if there's a re-match it will be a completely different fight. I'd like to see him retire soon, though. He could do a bit of coaching, maybe. Maybe he could fight Oscar De La Hoya and make that the last one. I don't want to see him get hurt any more. I'm not really that bothered whether he wins, loses or draws, to be completely honest. I just want him to stay alive and stay healthy. He seemed all right when he was interviewed afterwards, but I'll be giving him a ring soon, just to make sure.

Phil Taylor was talking to Brian Viner

Belfast Telegraph


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