Sunday 18 August 2019

Hatton brand still as strong as ever in boxing circles


Book Review: Dean Goodison

Ricky Hatton has been out of the ring for a while now but his brand seems to be as strong as ever. In his pomp the massive Manchester City fan took big crowds to his fights from the north-west of England, all drawn to the man who was said to be 'just one of the lads'.

All in all Hatton had a pretty stellar career that saw him hold multiple belts and fight two of the greatest fighters of his, or any, generation in Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Those two bouts took place in the 'fight capital of the world', Las Vegas, as did three of the boxer's other title showdowns.

It's those five contests that form the basis for Hatton's book, 'Ricky Hatton's Vegas Tales'. This is not the first publication from the Mancunian powerhouse.

His first shot at an autobiography came back in the mid-noughties, the simply titled 'My Story', and another followed in 2013 with the release of 'Ricky Hatton, War and Peace'.

'Vegas Tales', which arrived less than two years later, seems to be Hatton trying to strike while the iron is still hot. Given that the boxer's most important fights came in the desert, there seems little reason why these 'tales' couldn't have been told in the original autobiography and in the process save his fans, to whom he dedicated this book, a few quid.

The problem with hastily arranged and written books is that they can look like they were thrown together. Unfortunately, this offering, ghost written by Justyn Barnes, falls into that category. It's a little all over the place with Hatton chopping and changing from clash to clash at a ferocious pace.

There are also far too many editing issues for a professionally assembled book. In several spots there are sentences that are written in one way, altered but not properly, leaving the reader to go back through the segment trying to figure out what the author is trying to say.

Having said all that, the book is saved by the content and Hatton does come across how he seems on television.

In that sense Barnes and Hatton do a solid job and the stories that are told are almost always interesting and often will have the reader chuckling - look out for the one with Hatton's gran and Mike Tyson and the sushi story.

There are a few strange sections in the book too. Very early on the reader is just getting into the flow of Ricky and how the book is structured and, bang, Barnes jumps in and delves into the history of the city of Vegas, almost six pages worth of Mafia stories.

Then, towards, the end Hatton spends 30 pages, yes 30, talking through his 'top ten Vegas tear-ups'.

It feels like they are just dropped in there, that neither Hatton nor Barnes had any real idea of where to position them in the book but that they were needed as space filler. Is this a worthwhile purchase? For a Ricky Hatton fan, or even for a big boxing fan, it's an offering that will tell you something about someone in the boxing world that you didn't already know. From that perspective it is worth checking out.

To the average sports fan who might be in The Book Centre and looking for a new, interesting read: if you are going down the boxing route this isn't a bad choice, it would not be as in-depth as Hatton's biography and will give you a lighter read than many of the publications on the shelf at the moment.

Visit The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street for the very best selection of sports books.

Wexford People

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