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13th Nov 2022

Ricky Hatton’s comeback fight on Sky Sports highlights just how far boxing has fallen

Lee Costello

Ricky Hatton

The sport of boxing is decaying.

A few weeks ago, 44-year-old Ricky Hatton fought 48-year-old Antonio Barrera in an exhibition fight, live on Sky Sports, and it was actually very enjoyable to watch.

The two boxing legends went toe to toe and kept up an impressive tempo over the course of eight rounds. and they showed that although Father Time catches up with all of us, hard work and looking after your health can have incredible results, regardless of your age.

The problem is, in a year where boxing has continuously let itself down, this fight was actually a bit too good.

While watching it, this writer had all of the same feelings he used to have when watching the biggest boxing events, and realised that he hasn’t experienced those in a long time.

It took two men who are in their late 40s, putting on an exhibition fight, for me to feel the love for this sport that I used to have.

I know it’s a very unpopular statement, but having Tyson Fury as the biggest star in the modern game has been detrimental to the sport.

Although an entertaining personality and infinitely talented fighter, his constant empty promises, retirement statements, match-ups with lesser known fighters and failed attempts to make the big fights, has left a bad taste in the mouth of boxing fans.

The whole world is crying to to see the WBC champ take on Anthony Joshua; something he said he would do for free, but also only for half a billion – confused? Me too.

Right now Oleksandr Usyk is the unified heavyweight world champion after defeating Joshua in a masterclass performance. The Ukranian holds most of the belts, has unified the division below him, and is still undefeated, but Fury refuses to entertain that fight.

Then you have his brother Tommy Fury, who cancels more fights than a mother with with wrestling-crazed kids. More famous for being a reality TV star, the supposed professional fighter has spent his entire boxing career chasing a bout with a YouTuber.

Last night, when it looked like he was actually going to get in the ring and show us all what he can do, the Love Island contender didn’t even make the weight, thus calling off yet another fight.

Conor Benn was due to fight Chris Eubank Jr in a mouthwatering clash that had everything you could ever want! There was history, rivalry, a narrative with their fathers, and better yet, both are proper old school fighters who love to throw hands.

Ricky Hatton

It was tough to call, and one of the few times you didn’t mind paying the PPV fee to watch it, because you know as a boxing fan that fights like these are few and far between.

I devoured every bit of relevant coverage, documentaries, interviews and podcasts in the lead-up to the fight, changing my mind on who I thought would win constantly, allowing myself to get excited, and I got that urge that all boxing fans get in the run-up to a big bout when you even start shadowboxing in your living room.

Of course, it’s the hope that kills you, and in what has to be one of the lowest moments ever in boxing, Benn tested positive for a banned substance, and the whole thing was off.


Ricky Hatton

So now, the sport is in place where charity bouts between legends of the game are the closest thing we as fans get to some genuine action.

To be clear, there is nothing sad about what Ricky Hatton did last night. He is a genuine hero of the sport, and his journey is inspirational, but the fact that it was one of the highlights of the year for boxing, proves just how bad things have gotten.

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