Ricky Hatton became a British boxing folk hero once he defeated Kostyra Tszyu to win the IBF junior welterweight title, in 2005, via an eleventh-round technical knockout.
The bout which took place at the M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom, saw 22,000 people fill up the arena. Despite the fight taking place on Hatton’s home turf, Hatton was a large betting underdog. Tszyu was one of the best knockout punchers of his era and was the first man to unite the junior welterweight division in thirty-five years. His knockout loss to Vince Phillips was now viewed as an anomaly.
What we got was an ugly mess - a fight that no one probably revisits the fight itself - but the outcome cemented the legacy of Hatton for the rest of his life. A dirty fight that saw rough tactics from both sides overshadowed the action in the ring, Tszyu failed to answer the bell for the twelfth and final round, making Hatton the winner.
At the time of the stoppage, Tszyu was down on all three judges scorecards.
There is only one Ricky Hatton!
Ricky Hatton had defeated one of the most feared punchers in the sport at the time. This set the stage for Hatton to be viewed by most boxing outlets as the Boxer of the Year in 2005. Hatton would go on to beat Juan Urango, José Luis Castillo, Luis Collazo, and Paulie Malignaggi. Hatton would also lose to the best of his era, getting knocked out by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Hatton would walk to the ring to “Blue Moon”, and had a unique connection with his fans, who cheered him in triumphant as well as defeat. When he was stopped by Floyd Mayweather it was at the height of the U.S. economy being in a recession. MGM Grand sold-out of beer inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, given the strength of the pound to the dollar for that bout, a story that always gets told, over and over again.
Tszyu, the beloved fighter.
Tszyu would retire after this fight, but Australia would not care. Tszyu is a national treasure for their country and the pride of his career still remains. The sporting icon, who was Gennadiy Golovkin before Gennadiy Golovkin, had won over a generation of not just fight fans, but the general public.
Tszyu’s retirement was much like his fights in general. Straight to the point. He retired after the Hatton fight and never returned to the ring.