Ricky Hatton: Jack Massey ready for world title with Lawrence Okolie a future target

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Jack Massey

Massey and Laggoune meet tonight.

In his latest column with Metro.co.uk, the British boxing legend previews a huge night on Fightzone as Jack Massey bids to win his first world title.

Jack Massey’s big night is here. It’s a huge opportunity for him and trainer Rob Rimmer with the IBO cruiserweight title up for grabs against Bilal Laggoune in Bolton on one of the biggest nights of the year for Fightzone.

I’ve been asked to join Jack for his ringwalk and I’m glad to do it. He has the chance to bring another title back to the Phoenix Camp and for Jack, it’s his opportunity to make a real statement.

He has come on leaps and bounds since that night against Richard Riakporhe in 2019 where he suffered his only professional defeat. It was a setback, but he has responded well.

Jack is coming from a gym that is absolutely bouncing at the minute he has got everything going for him heading into his fight. I am backing him to walk away with the belt around his waist.

Massey headlines tonight’s card in Bolton (Picture: Getty)

Laggoune might not be a name we are all familiar with, but sometimes the less you know about an opponent, the more dangerous they are.

But his trainer Rob will have no doubt done his homework, there will have been no stone left unturned in their camp and I think he and Jack will be ready for whatever the Belgian pulls out of the bag.

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Huge fights await down the line

That fight against Riakporhe was a strange one for Jack. I was there on the night and he just didn’t turn up for some reason. But since then, he has moved on technically.

He’s been down to my gym and I’ve been up to the Phoenix and seem him in sparring often, he is coming into his own now and is better prepared than ever.

Massey came up short against Riakporhe in 2019 (Picture: Getty)

Dennis Hobson has kept him busy this year too, getting a big KO win over Engin Karakaplan to pick up the IBF European belt in the summer. Staying active is so important and can be the difference on the night so he has that going for him too thanks to Dennis and Fightzone.

The cruiserweight division is a great one to be in at the minute. There are great fights everywhere you look. I think Jack would like the Riakporhe rematch one day to set the record straight. Tommy McCarthy and Chris Billam-Smith are in similar positions too and obviously you’ve got WBO champion Lawrence Okolie at the top of the pile.

Okolie holds the WBO cruiserweight belt (Picture: Getty)

IBO title an undervalued belt

I always liked the IBO belt, I won it against Juan Urango and defended it against Jose Luis Castillo, it was a big night in my career.

It might be overlooked sometimes but some of boxing’s biggest names have held that belt over the years including Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Floyd Mayweather Jr to name a few. Carl Thompson won this very same belt Jack is fighting for when he stopped David Haye back in 2004 so there is a lot of history in it.

Scotland’s Nathaniel Collins also on Friday’s card (Picture: Getty)

Given the level of talent around him domestically, winning this title will certainly see Jack get his foot in the door for other world title shots if he is successful tonight. If you have a belt, you’re automatically a more attractive proposition.

We are a close family in Manchester, I’ve known Robert for a number of years and Jack is a top lad. We’ve worked together a lot, me and my lads have gone down to their gym for sparring and they’ve come up to us. And above all else, he is a proud Mancunian. Whenever there is Mancunian fighting for a world title, I will be there showing my support.

Elsewhere on Fightzone

Jack’s fight isn’t the only big one tonight with two other belts on the line on Fightzone.

Mark Jeffers is going up against another tough Belgian in Michel Garcia for the WBO Global super-middleweight title with Nathaniel Collins making the first defence of his Commonwealth featherweight against South Africa’s Thembani Mbangatha.

Nathaniel showed his class with a terrific KO to win the belt against Felix Williams up in Scotland in the summer and he’ll be looking to deliver another big statement here.

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