Ricky Hatton: Conor McGregor still has the time and ability to carve out a boxing career

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor

McGregor fights Dustin Poirier this weekend – but could a return to boxing follow? (Picture: Getty)

In his latest column with Metro.co.uk, the British boxing legend previews Lyndon Arthur’s fight, Conor McGregor’s possible return to boxing as Fightzone heads to Germany.

McGregor should consider boxing return

Conor McGregor boxed Floyd Mayweather, one of the greatest of all time, back in 2017 and I thought he gave a decent account of himself, considering he went in there having never boxed professionally before.

We have still got to give him credit for that. At what level he will get to remains to be seen but having dipped his toes in the water and having done well, I think if he retired without giving boxing another go, he would never forgive himself. He’s tried the boxing game and his performance warrants another go. I don’t blame him one bit. He doesn’t want to be sat on sofa in a few years’ time thinking: ‘I wish I had given boxing another go.’

He may do it before it is too late. But he’s got his own big fight coming up this weekend against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264. And while he looked excellent in the first win over him, that was back in 2014 which seems a lifetime ago. How much has he got left on the MMA side of the game remains to be seen. But if this to be looked at as possibly his last fight in UFC, he’ll throw everything but the kitchen sink at him.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor World Press Tour - London

McGregor has not hidden his desire to box again (Picture: Getty)

It’s not too late for him in boxing. Even though MMA is a different sport, he is halfway there. It’s not like he’s a total novice. He’s been in the fighting business a long time and he gave a good account of himself against Mayweather a few years ago. Under normal circumstances, really getting started at 32 years of age, that would be a dodgy and difficult age to turn professional.

But what he’s got behind him in the world of MMA and what he did with Floyd, I don’t think it’s too late for him. I wouldn’t say it would be the perfect time for him, maybe a couple of years ago would have been a bit better, but he’s not exactly at a crisis age! It is a good age given the background he’s already got – I think he can afford to go in there and give it a go.

McGregor and Poirier headline UFC 264 this weekend (Picture: Getty)

Conor will know that if and when he does go back to boxing, he won’t be able to have 16 or 17 fights to get his ranking and to ease into the game. Bearing in mind his age, he will have to move through the levels a little quicker than normal if he is capable of it. But there is no reason why he can’t. And knowing the fighter he is, he won’t want to mess around with six or seven four-rounders, he will want to get in there and see if he’s got it or not as soon as he can.

At the end of the day, he will get the opportunities because of his profile too. I don’t know whether he would promote himself or go with someone but whichever way you look at it, he’s a promoter’s dream. There won’t be a shortage of people trying to sign him and get him on their shows.

I think with Conor, he would turn around and say: ‘Listen, I appreciate my age and appreciate I am coming in later than normal so let’s not p**s about, get me one big fight to get me going and let’s get stuck in.’ That is what he would need to do and that’s what I think he would do given the fighting man he is.

I’ve never met Conor, it would be nice to meet him and I’m sure we’ll cross paths later down the line. Everyone is welcome in my gym. I’ve lads up and down the country coming in sparring so having Conor stick his head through the door would be an absolute pleasure!

Arthur looking to deliver statement

Anthony Yarde is a massive talent and I still think he’s got a big future ahead but all eyes will be on Lyndon Arthur this weekend now after Yarde’s fight was called off. Lyndon beat Yarde and bearing in mind the performance Yarde put up against Sergey Kovalev, it speaks volumes of just how much Lyndon has come on. What a talent he is.

He’s got a fight against Davide Faraci who is unbeaten in 15 and has knocked seven of them out. A lot of the stoppages were early on his career which suggests as he’s gone up in levels in his career maybe he hasn’t quite carried his punching power.

But having said that, he’s an unbeaten fighter and unbeaten fighters are always dangerous because they don’t know they can be beaten yet. Lyndon has got to be on the ball. He’s no1 contender for the WBO title now, it would be heartbreaking as his friend and as a Mancunian for him to take his eye off the ball and come a cropper after his fantastic win last time.

Arthur takes on Davide Faraci at the Royal Albert Hall this weekend (Picture: Getty)

But I don’t think he does that. He comes from a legendary stable up in Manchester, The Collyhurst and Moston gym and they are doing a brilliant job bringing the likes of Lyndon and Zelfa Barret through. So I’m very confident Lyndon will be the next one to bring the world title back to Manchester but for this fight, he’s got to look at it as his world title fight.

As hard as he has worked to get into this position where a title shot is very close, it all goes t**s up if he loses this. He has to keep his eye on the ball but there is no better man to maintain that than Pat Barrett in his corner.

The light-heavyweight scene is looking very good right now. It is a fantastic division, especially domestically when you look at Arthur, Yarde, Callum Johnson and Joshua Buatsi. To be honest with you, the light-heavyweight division used to be the division that would send you to sleep a few years ago. And I don’t mean that to be disrespectful. But you look at it now, it has got to be one of the best in British boxing.

Fightzone hitting the road after big night for Massey

I was ringside for last Friday’s Fightzone show and it was a really good night. The way the show is set out of is very professional and I can see why it is a massive success. Manchester’s Jack Massey got to the top of the bill and won his first title, Josh Holmes was also on the bill and it was great to see their success.

Fightzone in Germany this weekend.

I enjoyed every part of it none more so than seeing my friend Dennis Hobson and chatting about old times. It is brilliant to see how Dennis and Fightzone are doing, I hope to have one of my own boxers on one of the shows very soon.

It is always brilliant to win your first belt from a confidence point of view and that’s what Jack Massey has done. He’s been improving under Robert Rimmer over the last few years and having the IBF European cruiserweight belt around his waist now will springboard him. Dennis has opened the doors now.

This week Fightzone is on the road heading to Germany with Leon Harth and Rad Rashid fighting for the WBO European cruiserweight title in the headliner. And I’m sure Jack will definitely be interested in fighting the winner to get hold of another belt.

It is great for Fightzone to dip their toes into Europe and if Jack can get the fight against the winner further down the line then there isn’t one negative about it.

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MORE : Ricky Hatton column: I’ll fight Oscar De La Hoya if he wants it; Jack Massey ready to make statement on Fightzone return


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