EXCLUSIVE — Boxing, from getting off that perfect combination to taking the right fights on the path to glory, is all about timing.
Unfortunately, for this interview, Campbell Hatton and The Sporting News discovered their collective timing was a little off. After a busy year in the ring, undefeated super-lightweight Hatton had taken in a couple of Manchester City away days.
Pep Guardiola’s treble winners beat Young Boys 3-1 in the Champions League before a 3-0 win at Manchester United. As City took three points home, Campbell left his voice at Old Trafford. We decided to put our interview back 24 hours.
“I’m struggling,” he said. “I was over in Switzerland watching them against Young Boys, got back the day before the derby and then had it all again. I wasn’t fit for much yesterday, you wouldn’t have got a word out of me.”
Hatton is now 14-0 after a string of undercard contests under the Matchroom banner between March and October this year. He’s already back in the gym under the watchful eye of trainer and uncle Matthew Hatton, while pad sessions with dad Ricky remain part of his education.
“It was five fights in seven months, so it’s felt weird not being on a diet,” he said of his recent much-needed downtime. “You need a little carrot dangling in front of you in those camps because they are tough and no one enjoys the dieting side of boxing. To have something to look forward to is dead important for me.”
Hatton hasn’t just been clocking up air miles as part of City’s European following. The past year has been one of learning away from the bright lights of fight night.
Ahead of Jack Catterall’s win over former three-weight world champion Jorge Linares in Liverpool, Hatton sparred with the highly-ranked 140 lbs contender. Gym work with the likes of Maxi Hughes and Jazza Dickens has also been on the agenda.
In early September, he went further afield, travelling to the United States for some work under esteemed trainers Virgil Hunter and Manny Robles.
“It was a great experience, it was a quality trip. Every coach has got different experience, different approaches to things and it was good to get a taste of a few different styles,” Hatton said.
“The main thing they both did was just constant repetition. They’d slow things right down. They train very hard, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you’re repeating really simple stuff, getting it right, building the speed and doing it at a high pace afterwards.
“Coming from an amateur background where I had limited fights, those fundamentals are really important. I made a load of notes on the advice I got from each coach and forwarded them on to Matthew.
“We’ve come back here and we’re still working on them. We’ve got this time until my next fight, I’m going to be doing the same sort of stuff.”
Hatton hopes to be out again in early 2024 after his final contest of a learning year left a slightly bitter taste.
He was awarded victory via disqualification in the eighth and final round against Jamie Sampson on the Catterall-Linares undercard after referee Mark Lyson belatedly tired of his opponent’s persistent holding.
“I prepared really well, I was performing really well in the gym, there was no reason why it couldn’t have been my best performance to date,” Hatton reflected. “He had two points off for holding and I was surprised it went on as long as it did because the holding was blatant.
“You can spin it on its head and take positives from it. It was eight rounds under my belt and when there’s a lot of holding that can be very tiring. My gas was still good. It’s eight physical rounds that are banked.
“Now I’m better equipped if I’m in a fight like that where the opponent is messing you about a bit and I can keep my head better.”
WATCH: Campbell Hatton on first two years as professional, pros and cons of following dad Ricky into ring
After that underwhelming night in Liverpool, promoter Eddie Hearn told Boxing News that Hatton’s next fight “must be a 10-rounder and it must be a fight that’s interesting”.
For his part, Campbell agrees. “I’d like a belt round my waist, possibly even in my next one,” he said. “I don’t see why next time out it can’t be for an area title.”
Boxing, as always, is all about timing.