It has been a whirlwind week in British boxing, with Anthony Joshua, Robert Helenius and Eddie Hearn amongst these swept up within the storm brought on by Dillian Whyte’s failed doping check. But they haven’t been the one figures pressured to brace and hope for the perfect; Campbell Hatton, son of boxing icon Ricky, is considered one of many undercard fighters to have been disorientated forward of Saturday’s occasion on the O2 Arena.
“I was sweating, me!” the 22-year-old tells The Independent. “I found out probably a couple of hours before the announcement that [Joshua vs Whyte] was off. I spoke to Matthew – my trainer and uncle – and he was always pretty confident they’d be able to get someone in, but I just thought: At this stage of the game, and at the very top level, you’re struggling if you lose your main event.”
Hatton’s super-lightweight conflict with Tom Ansell was considered one of a number of fights to be put underneath risk when Whyte was pulled from this week’s card, leaving Hatton momentarily “heartbroken”. “I thought all the weeks of training, dieting and sacrifice could be for nothing,” he says. “It makes it that little bit worse that there’s nothing I could’ve done; I’ve not done anything wrong. For the undercard [fighters], it’s like you’re getting punished for no reason, and the same for Anthony. I’d have been gutted if the show hadn’t gone ahead.
Heartache gave way to hope, however, and finally relief as Helenius was announced as Whyte’s replacement.
“Oh, massive relief,” Hatton says, “because the hardest bit was staying professional while they were still looking for opponents. It would’ve been quite easy to get my head in a Chinese [takeaway] when I heard the news [about Whyte]! I’d been on a diet for like 10 weeks, and it’d have been quite easy to let things slip. But we didn’t; we kept the mind on the job and treated it as if nothing was going on.”
As Hatton takes on 30-year-old Ansell (10-4, 2 knockouts), the younger prospect is seeking to enhance a promising file that stands at 12-0 (5 KOs). Hatton began out at light-weight, however now he’s blooming at a barely larger weight, and he’ll goal to keep up his strong run of type on Saturday.
“I think it’s the perfect step-up really,” he says. “I think I would be capable at even a level above [this], but we’ve seen how I’ve been performing – especially the last four or five fights where we’ve been getting them stoppages and winning quite comfortably. We want to get those rounds and experience under my belt before I fight for a title, and Ansell’s definitely gonna make me work for the win. I think it’s gonna bring the best out of me, when I get an opponent who’s gonna come to win. We’ve prepared for the toughest test of my career, but I think we’re gonna see the best version of Campbell Hatton.”
Saturday will mark Hatton’s third outing on the O2, and he believes he’s getting used to phases of that measurement. “My first year as a pro, I didn’t show 50 per cent of what I was capable of at that time,” he admits. “I think that was down to the spotlight and pressure. I had the fight at Spurs’ stadium [in 2021] where I did struggle a little bit, and it was clear the pressure was too much for me. So, we went away from the spotlight, did a few quieter shows, and I think I’m better equipped to deal with it now. When I find out I’m on a big show and I’ve got a good slot on the bill, I buzz off it.”
Fighting at Manchester City’s stadium, house to Hatton’s beloved soccer staff, remains to be the dream, as he appears to be like to emulate considered one of his father’s quite a few accolades. Campbell was simply seven when his father beat Juan Lazcano at that very venue, however his recollections of an early initiation into boxing lengthen even additional again.
“I remember being in the gym at four or five years old,” Hatton says. “I’ll have been in there sooner; my nana always told me I used to have my nappy changed on the ring apron! I remember watching my dad and uncle train, messing about on the bags myself. There isn’t a time I can remember when boxing wasn’t a part of my life.
“My dad was a bit reluctant [for me to follow suit], he’s always said he’d rather I went into something else – as I think any parent would. But I’ve never been pushed in any direction really, my family has always got behind whatever I’ve done. My mum took a bit of convincing, but she’s probably done more for my boxing than anyone. I had Lyla very young, I was a dad at 17, and even through that I never missed a training session; that’s all down to my mum. And it gives me and my dad something to share and bond over.”
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