Ricky Hatton at home in Hyde, Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 12:02 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:07 20 February 2013
As Ricky Hatton prepares for his first fight since his defeat in Las Vegas, we look at the Hyde 'Hitman's' humour, homecoming and his very own Heartbreak Hotel
It was a record number of ticket sales for an individual sportsman and beat all post war records for an outdoor boxing event. Ricky, who lives in Gee Cross, Hyde, is hoping to beat off competition from his opponent Juan Lazcano at the Manchester City Football Club ground on May 24th. The event, coined 'The Homecoming', will be his first fight since his unbeaten run was smashed by Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas and the first time he has fought in Manchester for three years. His brother Matthew, also a fine boxer, is on the bill too. Ricky, who received an MBE for services to sport in 2007, said: 'I'm looking to bounce back from this defeat strong. To sell so many tickets has left me speechless.
I've always wanted to play at my beloved Manchester City and I'm so proud of my fans. 'Not everyone can afford to keep watching me in America so it was time I had a homecoming.' The boxer may be able to count Wayne Rooney, Sylvester Stallone and Tom Jones as friends but he has always been proud of his roots. He has kept the same trainer throughout his career, enjoys a pint at the New Inn in Hattersley, his parents' former pub, and relishes the opportunity for a snack at his local caf, The Butty Box in Mottram Road, Hyde. But his Hyde home, round the corner from Cheshire Life cartoonist Tony Husband and Olympic running star, Ron Hill, is the place he likes to kick back and relax with girlfriend Jennifer Dooley, who he first met at primary school.
The couple also enjoy takeaways with friends, footballer Wayne Rooney and wife Colleen at the house named Heartbreak Hotel after Ricky's favourite artist Elvis.
Ricky has said: 'Jennifer asked me how long I'd been here. It must have been at least 18 months. She couldn't believe it because the instructions on how to work the cooker were still inside the oven. 'I'm not as wild as I used to be and maybe Jennifer's played a part in that.
Staying in and watching TV or a DVD is something I do more often these days.' Unsurprisingly there are Manchester City shirts (he is a lifelong supporter), a huge trophy cabinet and a pair of boxing gloves from his professional debut at Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes scattered about the house. The latter were presented to him by his trainer, Billy Graham, just before he boxed Kostya Tszyu for the world light welterweight title.
But unexpected sights in Ricky's Hyde home include an Only Fools and Horses montage signed by the cast, a sombrero and Cyril the butler, a six foot statue he had shipped over from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas that stands by his front door. 'He's a heavy chap and I couldn't shift him any further,' Ricky has admitted. 'I went out for a beer on the Friday. I got back home about half one in the morning, opened the door and I nearly died with shock because I'd forgotten all about Cyril being stood there. 'I'm used to him now, he doesn't say a lot and he's not exactly the best looking boy but he's almost become part of the family.' The boxer is also carving a niche for himself as an afterdinner speaker with a killer stand-up routine and punchlines as quick as his jabs.
It has been mooted that he could take up a career as a stand-up comedian after he retires from sport. Everyone from Floyd Mayweather to his own family have experience the boxer's sharp tongue. But for now he has bigger things on his mind. 'There's nothing like fighting at home,' he explained. 'I'm back in Manchester, in front of my fans and at a ground I love. Las Vegas has been a second home and it was amazing having so many Brits out there. 'But I can't wait to fight in front of my home crowd again. It's going to be a great night.' Good luck Ricky.