Ricky Hatton pays tribute to 'top-drawer' Ricky Burns

Ricky Hatton is backing Scottish boxer Ricky Burns to unify the lightweight division.

Burns defended his WBO lightweight world title against Kevin Mitchell in style, stopping the Englishman in four rounds back in September.

"He's matured into a real class, top-drawer fighter, and not only has he made one defence, he's made several defences of his title," said Hatton.

"Now he's got the right to go out and get some unification matches."

Hatton, who will take to the ring for the first time in over three years when he faces Vyacheslav Senchenko on Saturday, says he has nothing but admiration for Burns as a boxer, and as a person.

Ricky Hatton

Hatton is returning to the boxing ring after a three-year absence

"I think the world of Ricky Burns," he told BBC Scotland.

"He's a hell of a nice lad; I've met him on several occasions. He's a real success story.

"He sort of came from nowhere to be world champion, and everyone must have thought, 'well hopefully he'll make one defence', and he hasn't.

"He's matured into a real class, top-drawer fighter, and not only has he made one defence, he's made several defences of his title now."

Hatton thinks that Burns has boxed his way into a position where he can name his opponents for fights - and his price.

"Now he's got the right to go out and get some unification matches where he can get some nice paydays, provide for his family, and achieve the sort of riches we all dream of when we first lace those gloves on," he added.

"It's a real success story. He's one of boxing's nice guys, and he's done it the hard way.

"He deserves all the success he's had, and he's an absolute credit to Scottish boxing," he added.

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As far as my punch resistance goes, it's the last thing I'm worried about

Ricky Hatton

Hatton steps into the ring for the first time since his brutal defeat at the hands of Manny Pacquiao to face the Ukrainian Senchenko in front of a partisan Manchester support.

The former IBF and WBA light welterweight champion, who also held the latter governing body's title at welterweight, has battled back from troubles in his personal life to return to the boxing arena.

And Hatton, 34, has dismissed suggestions that he is taking risks with his health by making a comeback after so long out of the ring.

"The first time when I started sparring again I thought about what it was going to be like, the minute I get hit on the chin am I going to go back and think, 'oh, I forgot how hard that was, it's not for me this comeback'," he explained.

"But when the circuits got hard, when the hill sprints got hard, when the sparring got hard, every wall that's been put in front of me, I've knocked it down with flying colours.

"My stamina's as good as ever.

"I think I've always had a good chin. I got knocked out by Floyd Mayweather, I got knocked out by Manny Pacquiao, but I don't think Manny beat the best Ricky Hatton that night. The training camp was nothing short of a disaster.

"As far as my punch resistance goes, it's the last thing I'm worried about. Anyone can get knocked out, as every boxer knows when they go into the ring, but I can't say that's weighing heavily on my mind."

You can hear John Beattie's interview with Ricky Hatton in full on Sport Nation on Saturday 24 November at 11am on BBC Radio Scotland 92-95FM.

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