Ricky Hatton: Billy Joe Saunders would be right to retire from boxing after injury woe

Saunders may hang up his gloves following May’s defeat (Picture: Michelle Farsi/Matchroom)

In his latest Fightzone column with Metro.co.uk, the British boxing legend admits we may have seen the last of Saunders in the ring and previews a big night for Tommy Frank on Friday.

Saunders has nothing to prove

Billy Joe Saunders is a clever man and a clever fighter and only he knew how bad that injury was against Canelo. You can’t judge him. People who have judged him haven’t laced up a pair of gloves in their life. You don’t know what he went through. And none of us know except Billy what the after effects of that injury are.

I heard reports that it will heal quickly – that’s all well and good. But it was the same for Kell Brook after he fought Gennady Golovkin. It is alright saying, ‘he will be back’. But with an injury such as the one Billy Joe got, every time you get hit you will know the pain that came from it last time. It must be an underlying problem that will never go away.

And I think that might be one of the main reasons for him retiring. He might think ‘I can’t go through that again’ because you might not be able to guarantee that the injury won’t come back again at any time. And it doesn’t matter what the doctors tell you, if that’s at the back of your mind, he needs to get out. So I think he would be doing the right thing.

Saunders was unable to continue after a ferocious eighth round (Picture: Getty)

Billy is a two-weight world champion, the only person to beat him is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, a f*****g animal who is beating everyone. When you look at how Canelo has destroyed some people, for Billy Joe to put in the performance he did, with an injury which could consequently make him go into retirement, it is another box ticked. Job done, Billy. We are proud of you.

He could be a very good pundit! The only thing is he doesn’t do things by the script. But I do think on TV, too many go by the script and the studio guests do seem a bit plastic, they put the suit and tie on and it is as if they have been told what to say.

So I think there is a market there for Billy Joe to come in. He certainly isn’t going to say what the promoter wants him to say, he is going to say whatever the f**k he wants. As long as he minds he’s Ps and Qs and doesn’t say anything too controversial like he has done in the past, I think he would be very good for boxing and very good for TV.

Benn a world class star of UK boxing

I think Conor Benn is Great Britain’s next big star. I think he went a bit OTT in his last interview after beating Samuel Vargas, he seemed to be having a go at the whole world! But that’s the passion Conor brings, not just in his fighting but his whole attitude.

When he first kicked on with his career, he had to put up with people saying ‘he is only here because of his dad’, or he’s never going to do this or he is never going to do that. He was underperforming a little bit so people got on his back. But he stayed at it, stayed dedicated in the gym listening to his team and his last performance was the best of his career.

Benn destroyed Vargas in one round (Picture: Dave Thompson Matchroom Boxing)

Nobody will tell me that performance wasn’t world class. He was aggressive, he was explosive, but he was in control. He knew where every punch was going. It was pure world class. Conor knew what he had in him and it all came out together on one night. I think that is why he lashed out a bit after. A few people have said to me, ‘Conor Benn, he seems a bit big-headed’. But he’s the complete opposite.

Yes, there was a bit of frustration because of the stick he has been given when he was coming through the ranks and now everyone wants to kiss his a**e! But it was just frustration in Conor’s defence.

Benn delivered a passionate post-fight interview after the win (Mark Robinson Matchroom)

His last opponent was a dangerous opponent and he’s picked another one here for Matchroom Fight Camp in Adrian Granados who has been in with Robert Easter Jr, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Adrien Broner. He’s not only taken criticism on board and kept in the gym to improve, he is picking dangerous opponents now. I like to think the days of when people were on his back are well behind us. You’ve got to pat him on the back.

Fightzone delivers another barnstormer

The first thing about Fightzone and what they’ve been doing was getting regular fights every week and opportunities for these lads but there have been some barnstorming fights along the way and Matt Windle and Neil McCubbin last week had potential for being a fight of the year contender.

Not only is Dennis Hobson doing a good job and Fightzone doing a good job here but so are the matchmakers. The shows have looked fantastic and everyone I have spoken to who has been there says the atmosphere has been cracking. It’s all falling into place.

Redemption for Tommy Frank?

Tommy Frank headlines this week’s show up against Hugo Guarneros, the IBF inter-continental flyweight champion and the only man to beat him. He will want to prove himself again against Tommy. Dennis has come up trumps again to get the rematch sorted. It must have been heartbreaking for Tommy, getting an opportunity to fly up the rankings in their first fight in December and then all of a sudden getting a shoulder injury.

Another big night on Fightzone on Friday.

So it’s a good opportunity for him and honestly I think Guaneros will have wanted the rematch too, no champion wants to win like that. I’ve been a champion and have won a fight here and there due to injuries and it is not the way you want to do it.

Michael Gomez Jr is also on the card. He seems to have been about forever and I feel like giving him a bit of a bollocking! He’s got huge potential, he has been down sparring with my boy Campbell on several occasions and the frustrating thing is seeing the potential he’s got and then not seeing him for a while.

He needs a guarantee of regular fights, he made fantastic headway and impressed a lot of people but seems a little bit too inactive. The problem is not his ability, but his inactiveness and when that is the case there is not a better place to be than with Dennis Hobson and Fightzone where he will get regular fights.

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