Gambling Zone sat down with the iconic British lightweight fighter to discuss the biggest topics in boxing, including Fury vs Joshua, Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez, his son Campbell and why YouTube boxers will never be taken seriously.
On Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua
Do you think this is a fight that we will see happen this year?
We’ve been wondering if this fight is going to happen for the last five or six years; there’s been a lot of talk and not much else. I think it will happen. I think it needs to happen.
It’s getting to the stage where all the noise around it, it’s getting a bit embarrassing. I’m not pointing the finger at Tyson or AJ, nor do I think why it hasn’t happened is down to Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn – nobody knows what the negotiations are like and who is in the right or who is in the wrong. We don’t know what the route of the problem is. It could be a number of things: the purse, the TV, location, we don’t know.
A fight such as this, of this magnitude and size, would be the biggest fight in British boxing history and it’s not happening for some reason.
I think for British boxing it’s a little bit embarrassing. For the future of the sport, the big names need to start fighting each other. You’ve got other fights getting a lot of attention: MMA fighters fighting boxers, YouTubers fighting each other, boxers fighting YouTubers. These are all huge events and, sadly, our sport is getting left behind a little bit because fights, like Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua are not happening.
Like I said, I’m not pointing the finger of blame at anyone for the fight not happening, but after all this time, so much talk, it’s starting to get a bit embarrassing. If the fight doesn’t happen, it can’t be good for boxing, certainly not in this country.
If the two fighters do finally get it on in the ring, who do you think has the advantage and which fighter has more to lose?
It’s hard to say when you’re looking at fights in the heavyweight division. We were talking about the FA Cup final earlier; a Manchester derby where anything can happen. The same thing applies to heavyweight boxing. It only takes one punch and with the way that AJ can hit, the way that Tyson can hit, in heavyweight boxing it can go either way.
I think the favourite would have to be Tyson, based on his recent form and performances. AJ has had a wonderful career; Olympic Gold medallist, two-time undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World.
A lot of people were saying that AJ looked a little gun shy in his last fight, a little bit more safety first. I think you’d have to go with Tyson as being the favourite if and when the fight does happen. I think Fury would be the slight favourite and I don’t think AJ would have a pop at me for suggesting that because of some of his recent performances. If you asked me where to put my last pound, I’d put in on Tyson.
On Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez
The fight is taken place at Boxing’s Mecca – Madison Square Garden – you fought in your second professional fight there. How much of a big deal is it for fighters to get the opportunity to perform there and do you think Taylor will handle the occasion?
I think Taylor will be able to handle the pressure of a fight at Madison Square Garden. He’s been in some good fights. Lopez is a great fighter; these are the type of fights that the sport of boxing needs. This is a big fight. We need more of these. We need Fury to fight Joshua or Usyk to fight Joshua.
I think that one of the reasons why these fights between MMA fighters and YouTubers are so popular is because the big fights, the fights that people want to see, aren’t happening in boxing.
As a professional boxer, you want to tick all the boxers. It’s like, if you’re a world-class footballer, you’d want to test yourself in the legendary leagues at the legendary stadiums. Any top boxer wants to fight in Vegas, the Garden, Atlantic City, you want to have the opportunity in your career.
Taylor will soon be able to tick off Madison Square Garden. That is something that is very special. When I fought there, I was only eighteen, but despite my young age, I knew the history of the place and I warmed to it. Taylor will be thinking about the magnitude of the event, and I think he’ll warm to it – he will handle the pressure of fighting there. You dream of fighting on those stages and he’ll be ready for it.
On Sunny Edwards vs Andres Campos
The first fight for the Edwards in Eddie Hearn’s stable. It’s a Wembley Arena fight, the biggest of his career so far, how do you think he will get on?
I’ve met Sunny several times. He’s one hell of a fighter and a great character. For the little guys to be topping the bill at an arena like that, just shows how far he has come in a short time.
Eddie must be happy with him to give him top billing at an arena like that. Sunny should be very, very proud of himself. I haven’t seen too much of his opponent. As the fight gets closer, I’ll be paying more attention.
It’s a dream for Sunny. We’ve all come from the same background where you’re fighting in leisure centres, halls, small arenas, so this would have been something he’s been dreaming of for a while. Defending a world title in an arena like that, that’s the dream. This will probably be one of the biggest nights of his career.
I used to fight in Salford Working Men’s club. You went into the game to fight on the big stages, so he’s got a great opportunity. I think Eddie Hearn and Matchroom are a good fit for him, and he’s done me very proud in his career so far. I’m really happy that he’s ticked this off his list.
On Campbell Hatton
Your son made it twelve wins from twelve when he beat Michael Bulik. What’s next for the young man?
Twelve wins from twelve fights. He’s doing well. His last fight was against a bit of a spoiler, a couple of fights ago, I think he could have made Campbell look silly. He could have lost his composure a bit, his shape, but he didn’t.
He caused Campbell a few problems, but he was patient. He kept his shape, kept his jab and eventually he got the opportunity he was looking for. I think he showed a massive improvement in this fight. Speaking on behalf of my brother Matthew, his trainer and Eddie Hearn, who looks after him, I’m still happy that was his first eight rounder. It’s very easy to come off two first round KO’s and then another KO against Bulik, but let’s not get too excited, let’s not get too giddy. I think he should have a few more fights at eight rounds.
He's not far off yet for an area title or an English title, but with the way his training is going and the progress he’s making, we just need to keep doing what we’re doing before we go to the next level.
On Exhibition and YouTube Fighters
What are your thoughts on YouTube boxers. The biggest names in YouTube fights, Jake Paul and KSI – will they ever be taken seriously by the boxing community and if so, how?
I don’t think that YouTube boxers will ever be taken seriously by the boxing community, no. I don’t blame any of these guys for fighting. Tommy Fury, you know when he had the chance to fight Jake Paul my reaction was, “go for it Tommy, lad!” How many people get to have the opportunity to fight on a stage that big and earn that kind of money? Go for it.
I am worried that boxing is getting left behind for events like Jake Paul vs Tommy Fury and I don’t blame any of these guys for doing it and taking the money.
I think most boxers would wonder how well guys like Tommy Fury or Jake Paul would get on in the professional game. Would they get to a European title? Would they get to a British title? That remains to be seen. Can you blame them for taking the opportunities? Any professional boxer would jump at the chance to perform in front of those kind of audiences for those types of sums. It is what it is.
Jake Paul turning around and saying, “I want to fight Canelo Alvarez”. Shut up! You’re not going to fight Canelo Alvarez – you couldn’t live with Canelo Alvarez – just see your fights for what they are. The boxing community doesn’t begrudge Jake Paul the opportunity to go and make that type of money, but just keep it real, you know what I mean. If Jake Paul come into the real world of professional boxing, he would be in trouble! I think all professional fighters would say that Jake Paul would struggle (in professional fights), but they’d still wish to be in his shoes (laughs).
When I watch these guys, I think they’re entertainers more than anything, it’s kind of like the WWF but without the scripts.
It’s social media boxing. One’s a rapper, one’s from YouTube…you can’t blame them for going into the hardest game of all and stepping out of their comfort zone. Boxing isn’t they’re area of expertise, so to give it a go, a proper go, you’ve got to take your hat off to them.
These fights attract huge audiences because they’ve got so many followers. They need to keep it real. Professional boxers know what level they’re at and what these fights are all about.