The gloves were off and the pen was out when former boxing world champion Ricky Hatton took part in a Leeds city centre book signing today.
The popular Mancunian, who won world titles at both welterweight and light welterweight during a glittering career, was greeted by around 100 ‘Hitman’ fans at Waterstones, in Albion Street, Leeds.
Hatton was in town signing copies of his new book ‘Ricky Hatton’s Vegas Tales’, which lifts the lid on his all-star US bouts with boxing greats Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather – two of just three defeats in his 48 pro fights.
The 36-year-old posed for pictures and shared stories with fans, many of whom had queued for around two hours to see their hero.
“I’m very proud, I always get a good reception wherever I go. I think my proudest achievement is my fan base and Leeds is a bit of a boom at the minute boxing-wise with Josh Warrington really doing well for the city,” he said. “It’s always really, really pleasing when you retire and you think that people forget about you and then you see a nice turnout like this one today – it makes you feel proud.”
With legendary wars with the likes of Kostya Tszyu, Luis Collazo and Juan Urango that will live long in the memories of fans, Hatton’s followers were keen to share their stories.
Paul Rodgers, 48, from Alwoodley, first saw the star box live against Leoncio Garces at Manchester’s MEN Arena back in 2000. He said: “People can really relate to him, he’s down to earth, it’s refreshing to see.
“There’s so much money in sport these days that sports people are further from the fans – you wouldn’t get this close to Floyd Mayweather.”
Steve Robinson travelled, from Snaith, in East Yorkshire, with his daughter Emma, 11, specifically to see Hatton.
He added: “Emma’s got the day off school and we saw this on Twitter. His performances and his connection with his fans just set him out from everybody else.”