As the days ticked down to the biggest fight of his life, Ricky Hatton picked up the phone.
Sitting in his adopted Nevada home, wearing Guinness-branded slippers, the two-weight world champion waited patiently for movement at the other end of the line.
Ricky Hatton’s son Campbell is dreaming of following in his father’s footsteps as a fighter
Now the 19-year-old is working hard in the ring with Hatton Snr as he bids to turn professional
His call was finally answered.
‘Hiya stinky,’ Hatton said. ‘How did you do at football?’
Back home, Campbell Hatton sighed. Decked out in his Manchester City strip, the young boy’s fingers stretched to grip the handset.
‘OK,’ he said in a high-pitched remix of a familiar twang. ‘Have you had your tea at Nanna’s?’ Hatton asked. ‘What are you having?
‘Lasagne with garlic pizza,’ came the reply.
Almost 13 years on, Hatton Jnr is pondering a rather more important question.
Campbell has a long road ahead, but he wants to learn and keeps coming back for more
These days, he is the one watching his weight; he is the one who has a young child and whose future could lie in the sun-baked boulevards of Sin City.
The road remains long but, at 19, Campbell is already a promising amateur plotting his next move.
‘I think he will go professional,’ his father said this week. ‘I think he’d make a better professional than he would an amateur.
‘He’s got a style like me. I’ve taught him in the Ricky Hatton mode – he changes angles and he pushes and shoves and he’s aggressive, which sometimes in the amateurs hasn’t helped him.
‘He would make a better professional but he can’t (turn over) until he learns a few more of the fundamentals and the subtleties.’
They are big boots to fill, but Campbell is up for the fight.
His father believes Campbell has a ‘massively exciting style’ and says he couldn’t be prouder
He has sparred a professional and Hatton Snr is keen to keep him grounded – he pushes his son in training to see if he can make the sacrifices boxing requires.
Still Campbell comes back for more. At Hatton’s Hyde gym, the self-confident teenager has been hauled back down to earth by his fellow fighters, who rib his attempts to fit local stereotypes.
Hatton Jnr fancies himself as a young Liam Gallagher – he dresses the part, floppy hat and all. During his fighting days, that was his father’s headwear of choice too.
In the ring, the similarities are frightening: the ginger hair, the pressed-in nose, the sky blue shorts. The Hitman has given way to The Hurricane. But the angles, the aggression, and the quick-wit remain.
There are many similarities between them and now the Hitman has given way to the Hurricane
The teenager is already a promising amateur who is showing progress despite narrow losses
‘He’s an absolute credit to me… he makes me proud every single day. As far as his boxing goes – I don’t want to put any more pressure on his shoulders than what he’s already got, but I think he might have half a chance,’ Snr said.
‘He’s got a massively exciting style and the minute you open your mouth – he talks more rubbish than me to be honest! Personality, he’s got the whole thing.’
Campbell took up the fight game in his early teens and after a short hiatus – when typical teenage distractions took hold – he has knuckled down in recent years.
Alongside his job, he trains with his dad, his uncle and former fighter Matthew and represents Roy Richardson’s Boxing Academy in Stockport. His experience is swelling.
He has knuckled down in recent years and has been brought down to earth in sparring
‘He’s had about 28 fights now and the lads with the same number of fights don’t want to fight him! I don’t know if it’s because of the name,’ his father said.
‘So he’s fighting lads with double the number of fights and he’s just getting beat by the skin of his teeth and I said, “Even though you’re losing son, it’s progress”.’
Boxing has a long and troubled history of sons who stepped into the land of their fathers.
Eubank, Mayweather, Chavez, Benn, and now Hatton – names live on even as decades pass.
Having a fighting father, such as Conor Benn’s dad Nigel, can be a curse and adds pressure
Hatton Snr was a two-weight world champion, which will give Campbell an extra burden
It’s a well-worn path but one familiar with overhype and underachievement. Boxing is hard enough without an extra mantle to carry.
Having a fighting father can be both a blessing and a curse: opportunities often come more quickly, so do expectations.
Very few succeed in stepping out of the shadow. Some never try – Hatton Jnr is certainly a chip off the old block.
‘He’s dedicated,’ his father added. ‘He’s got a good personality, he’s got good style, he listens, he learns… I always say to Campbell, “I was like a bull in a china shop when I first turned professional and that’s why I got caught every five minutes. You’ve got to learn and tweak the style a little bit”.’
Campbell and Hatton Snr pose next to WBC world champion Tyson Fury at their gym in 2018
The youngster is dedicated and has all the makings of a great fighter but must keep improving
Time remains on his side for now. As a kid, Campbell was a mascot at Manchester City before the gym became a more familiar haunt.
He lives with his mum and the birth of his daughter Lyla back in 2018 proved a turning point.
Since then, Campbell has matured into a doting father and an improving fighter.
Who knows? Maybe one day he’ll be on the other end of that phone.