The Night Ricky Hatton (And 20,000 Brits) Beat Kostya Tszyu

Like great Roman dramas, boxing’s rags to riches stories still capture the imagination and passion of the working man. In Ricky Hatton, those fans had a blue collar hero who was one of them.
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Like great Roman dramas, boxing’s rags to riches stories still capture the imagination and passion of the working man. In Ricky Hatton, those fans had a blue collar hero who was one of them.

In recent sporting history has there been no other individual who was so in tune with the lives and aspirations of those on the outside of the ropes. He was one of their own and they loved him for it.

On the evening of June 4th 2005 however, Hatton faced his harshest test. A match-up with the fearsome Kostya Tszyu, pound-for-pound one of the greatest fighters in the world at the time, and the undisputed king of the lightweight division. British boxing had been in such situations before. Many times. The championing of fighters who had found that sheer will and passion is no match for true talent. That, ultimately, despite a fighter’s bravest intentions, class will pick you apart at the seams.

There was something different that night though, both in and outside the ring. It was like a Rocky film. Tszyu hit Hatton with everything, only to find The Hitman refusing to buckle. By the middle rounds you could sense the disbelief in his eyes as Hatton kept coming. He was like a blowtorch and the force of the crowd lit him up. You could sense the life draining out of the champion. Eventually he was worn down to his core and Hatton seized his glory. It was collective. Never before or since has fighter used his crowd as such a force. It was as if Tszyu wasn’t just fighting one opponent but 20,000. He could have never have won that night, because Hatton wasn’t just the king of the world. He was also the king of his people. A true working class hero. Unstoppable.