Billy Graham's Preacher's Corner: Hatton reaching the IBHOF was overdue

It’s about time.

That was my first reaction when I got told Ricky Hatton had been elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

You might have seen Hatton, the recent documentary they made about our journey. It didn’t make the final cut but the guy who made the documentary asked me what I wanted for Ricky for the rest of his life. I told them I wanted him to be put in the Hall of Fame.

We always knew what Ricky was gonna be and I knew I was going to be successful. Right from the moment we started out together, we only ever thought about winning undisputed titles and fighting the very best people. That’s just how it had to be. I had lots of great nights, won titles, and my fighters won lots of fights they weren’t supposed to win. Making the Hall of Fame is different though. There are lots of titles and lots of champions but you have to be really special to make the Hall of Fame.

I’d started to think it wasn’t gonna happen. Other people have gone in before him and you start to worry that he wasn’t gonna get what he deserved. 

It’s the first time I’ve had that feeling – that physical feeling – since I was working. For a couple of minutes, I was as happy as I was when Ricky beat Kostya Tszyu. I was very proud. 

I retired from boxing as a very young man. I didn’t achieve what I should have and when I went back to the gym as a 35 year old, I only went because I wanted another fight. I even seriously considered having an unlicenced fight. I almost had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into being a trainer. To have people around the world vote for a fighter I trained from being an amateur, it’s fantastic.

Since learning about that I’ve been wondering how Sunny Edwards is gonna deal with his loss to Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez

I’ve been watching Sunny for years. Everybody can see how effective Sunny could be. He wasn’t my cup of tea but I could appreciate exactly what he was doing. Over time, he’s really won me over. He’s a very smart boxing man. In the last column I complained that people don’t analyse the fights any more but Sunny really knows what he’s looking at. 

Billy Graham's Preacher's Corner: Hatton reaching the IBHOF was overdue
Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing

I’m pretty sure Sunny will have plenty of people telling him that he lost because he engaged with Bam too much and didn’t move like he can. Sunny’s smart – he will have known that there would be times when he had to stand and fight because if he’d just moved and ran, Bam would have ran right fucking over him.

People who haven’t boxed might think a fighter’s vision is only affected when they see their eye swelled totally shut but as soon as I saw that bruising around his eye in the second round, I knew it’d make it harder for a fighter who relies on having such good peripheral vision and anticipation as Sunny. That’s why he doesn’t panic and can stay so calm – punches miss him by fractions of an inch. Sunny works on timing and that eye injury will have have affected him a lot. I’m not making excuses and Sunny won’t want any making – Bam is the one who damaged his eye. 

Sunny knows more about boxing than most. He’ll know a lot more about boxing than those who will be telling him that he fought the wrong fight and should move more in the future. I don’t think he did anything wrong. It was a great fight to watch. He just got beat by a better man on the night.

Sunny could outbox 99 per cent of pressure fighters but when you’re in with the top guys, you need to work out how to drain the pressure fighter and make them work when they don’t want to. The top guys are harder to catch clean – they generally punch harder and they are certainly tougher. If you can’t hurt them or put them in their place, they’ll throw caution to the wind.

We’ve had some very big fights this year and a lot of them were supposed to be close to 50-50s. Most of them have ended up being pretty one-sided though.

Naoya Inoue is my favourite fighter but I thought that with Stephen Fulton being a smart sharp shooter, he would give him some problems early on. It surprised me how effortlessly Inoue outboxed the boxer. We knew knew he’d have the power but he was miles ahead, skills-wise, too.

I know Teofimo Lopez hadn’t performed well in his fights with George Kambosos Jr and Sandor Martin, but I thought he would eventually be so much better fighting at 140lbs. Josh Taylor was absolutely terrible in their fight. He had every symptom of being a fighter in the wrong weight division. I suspected it would happen and I was right.

I think Errol Spence should be protected from himself. Errol seems like a good guy but you don’t need to be a doctor to see that he shouldn’t ever be allowed in a professional ring again. He probably will though. Terence Crawford is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and he was punch-perfect when they boxed. He shouldn’t have to do it all over again.

I wasn’t shocked that Gervonta “Tank” Davis beat Ryan Garcia but I was surprised by how wary he looked in the early rounds. I think “Tank” is a great fighter. He’s powerful, explosive, and has brilliant reflexes. I’m a little bit on the shelf about Garcia. I’m yet to be fully convinced. I’ve no questions about his heart, I’m just not certain about his durability.

I expected Devin Haney against Regis Prograis to be a lot more competitive than it was. I’m not taking anything away from Haney – he was clinical and hurt Prograis. He tamed a very dangerous fighter easily, but he didn’t really go to finish him. I suppose it’s the smart way to go about it but I’d like to see a bit more venom. I don’t want to write Prograis off fully just yet but we have to see more from him next time.