Campbell Hatton: 'People fight 10 times better against me because they want to beat a Hatton'
Some things haunt you when you have a surname as heavy as Campbell Hatton. If you follow your father into the ring, as he has, you become a prized scalp. You are burdened by history and under pressure to imitate one of the most beloved boxers this country has ever produced.
Currently there is an even more vexing issue bothering Hatton Jnr. Would he take a world championship belt if it meant Manchester City could never win the Champions League? “That is a big question,” he says. “I’m going to be greedy and say I want a world title, but I do think Champions League is happening this year. The treble is on.”
With apologies to mother Claire, Campbell looks as if Ricky Hatton has had a son with Ricky Hatton. We meet at his uncle and trainer Matthew’s gym on the fourth floor of a former cotton mill on the outskirts of Stockport, as Hatton approaches the end of his training for his fight against Michal Bulik at the Manchester Arena on Saturday. “He looks tough, as a lot of Polish fighters are. I’m expecting my hardest fight, on paper he should be my best opponent yet.”
'People compare me to my dad... those expectations are not realistic'
A Hatton fighting in Manchester brings a certain atmosphere, dense with nostalgia for thousands travelling to Las Vegas to watch his Dad. Part of uncle Matthew’s job is ensuring Campbell’s career does not mirror Ricky’s too closely. Campbell is fond of a beer but has a cap on his weight so cannot over-indulge between fights. One Instagram picture six weeks ago showed him tackling a monstrously large breakfast in Benidorm. “It was a brave one, putting that one out and coming back to Matt in the gym.
“But the main bit of advice I’ve had in my boxing career is from my Dad telling me to do as he says, not as he does.”
Early on he found himself getting too wound up before fights, which was no help. Pacing around changing rooms and “nutting stuff,” he would reach the ring and felt like he had already fought six rounds. So there is much to learn, although he is unbeaten in 11 professional outings to date.
His most instructional evening was a debatable points victory over Sonni Martinez at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on the undercard of Joshua vs Usyk in 2021. “People can, without realising, compare me at the start of my career to my Dad in his prime, so expect something that isn't realistic. But even forgetting who my dad is, to my own standards, that performance was poor. I let it become a closer fight than it needed to be.”
That experience prompted Hatton to retreat from enormous venues, to remove some pressure. What would he give his career so far? “Ten out of 10 for how I’ve wanted it to go, but my performances haven’t been 10 out of 10 the whole way through.”
His father’s peak came too early to inspire Campbell, who was six when Ricky fought Floyd Mayweather Jnr, but boxing is unavoidable in his family. “Me nanna likes to tell everyone I had my nappy changed on the ring apron.
“I don’t think there’s a sport like it for gripping you. From the age of about 14 I’ve not wanted to do anything else. I was training like a little pro from when I was at school, twice a day Monday to Friday. I was just obsessed. If I weren't training I was watching boxing.”
'My dad dropped me with a left-hook when I was a boy'
Being a Hatton has helped. Not every promising lightweight from Greater Manchester has their fourth fight in front of thousands at the country’s best stadium. But there is a downside. “I do think the pressures of it outweigh the opportunities that you get. I’ll fight someone and you just know they’ll be 10 times better because they want to say they’ve beaten a Hatton.”
He has certainly had some notable sparring partners. “Me and my Dad sparred when I was really young and he dropped me with a left hook to the body.” He laughs about this now, which seems an unusual reaction to being gutpunched by your own father. “I wasn’t laughing at the time. My Dad went white and said ‘don’t tell your Mum’.”
“But I worshipped my Dad, he was my boxing hero and I’d been dropped by a left hook to the body, which was a trademark of my favourite fighter. So part of me was a bit buzzing shortly after.
“It was all half-hearted with him. I was trying to take his head off but couldn’t lay a glove on him really.”
They did it again twice ahead of Ricky’s exhibition against Marco Antonio Barrera last year and the gap had narrowed. “The first time I really giv’ it him, the second time he busted my nose. There was not one bit of holding back, you could have done it in a phone box.”
Ultimately Campbell’s aim is a world title, which currently seems optimistic. “People will judge me on some of my past performances and probably think I think I'm mad.”
There is one more haunting question. Hatton has a daughter, named Lyla after the Oasis song. World title or full Gallagher brother reunion? “Let Liam walk me out for my first world title defence I reckon. That’ll do.”