As dusk approaches, the bright modern city transforms into a seedy Gothic metropolis.
The hit-man sits perched upon the rooftop of a monolithic edifice. His searching gaze is transfixed on the streets below.
It’s a routine hit, the type he has done multiple times before. He lifts the sniper rifle from its position on his chest. He peers through the sights on his gun, knowing that the silencer will mask the noise of assassination.
He sees the ant-sized target on the streets below, his fingertip paused above the trigger, and he waits. Like each time before, he waits to see the whites of the eyes before the kill.
Finally, the white spots dart up and gleam in the hit-man’s gun sight. His finger gently caresses the trigger just before he shoots and… He misses.
Fraught with anxiety, the hit-man vacates his position with great haste and runs down to the alleyway below. Sweat dripping down his brow, he pauses to ponder his predicament.
This is the first time a target had escaped—the first blemish on his record.
So, what had gone wrong this time?
Has he become too old, is he washed up, or did he simply miss a step in his preparation? Shocked with disbelief at this failure, he had to find out what went wrong.
If England’s Ricky Hatton truly is the hit-man of boxing, his inner anxiety might echo that of our fictitious assassin after he misses his target.
As Hatton faces the critical juncture of his career, boxing fans are left to wonder if his recent dip in form is a trend that might continue.
The Village Hotel, Ashton-Under-Lyne
Ricky Hatton trains in front of the cameras. It has become a staple of his career to open his practices to the media.
However, compared to before, something is now different. He has a new hand guiding him, in the form of Floyd Mayweather Sr.
Senior’s son, Floyd Mayweather Jr., dealt Hatton his first defeat in the squared circle.
Even though Roger Mayweather currently trains Floyd Jr. due to his estrangement from his father, Mayweather Sr. is accredited with giving Mayweather Jr. his style and panache in the ring.
It is that style that Ricky Hatton is looking for, Hatton was previously trained by Billy Graham. The man dubbed ‘the Preacher’ had guided the Hitman, but due to a dispute they parted ways.
Hatton insisted that it was due to the arthritis in Graham’s hands, causing the preacher pain in practices.
Media outlets speculated that it was the coaching for the Mayweather Jr. fight or lack of, that caused the split.
The truth is that Hatton needed Graham; it was almost like a comfort blanket.
Against lesser opponents Hatton relied on his own strengths and tempo to overwhelm them. However, against elite level opposition those weaknesses were exposed.
In fights against Collazo, Mayweather, and Lazcano, Hatton showed weakness, his body absorbing the punishment that his skills couldn’t cope with.
In the Collazo fight he faced a slick south paw fighter who showed the Hitman problems, even though Ricky Hatton won the fight on the decision, many pundits saw it as Collazo being robbed.
Against Mayweather Jr., Hatton let his emotions get the best of him.
After the points deduction, coupled with Floyd's amazing ability to adapt and counter Hatton, meant a knockout loss for the Hitman in the eighth.
Lazcano was the Hitman’s most recent outing. Hatton outpointed his foe but in the latter rounds the Hitman began to hold his opponent due to stamina issues.
Hatton couldn’t keep up the tempo the way he used to in his younger years and this was shown when the Hitman absorbed blows in rounds eight and ten that wobbled him.
The stamina issues are seen as a result of Hatton’s habits outside the ring.
Bad eating and Alcohol binges have caused Hatton to balloon in weight between fights. Those kinds of habits can be detrimental to a fighter’s longevity.
Due to all this, a change was obviously needed.
Mayweather Sr. now trains Hatton in the art of counter punching, and fighting in bursts.
Thus, adapting his game to his ageing limbs and ensuring that the Hitman doesn’t absorb the kind of punishment he had in his previous outings.
However, reservations remain. Can you teach an old dog new tricks, did Hatton need a true trainer or more of a friend, like Graham, to be a rock in his corner?
As the Hitman’s fans descend on Las Vegas many questions still remain. Hopefully one of boxing most likeable stars will soar back to the standards he set for himself and fulfil the expectations of a nation of devoted English followers.