Ricky Hatton talks English Breakfasts with Tom Skinner and trash talks Johnny Nelson ahead of The Box Off

While Ricky Hatton shares a mutual love of English breakfasts with Tom Skinner and a long-running friendship with Johnny Nelson, he’ll put it all to one side when The Box Off gets underway on Saturday night.

With his home city tattooed on his heart, ‘The Hitman’ will attempt to guide Team Manchester to glory as they compete in a bumper night of semi-final action at the Telford International Centre.

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With a stacked squad, featuring Sylwia Doligala, Liam Gaynor, Reece Wood, Ryszard Lewicki and Ben Thomas, Team Manchester will go toe-to-toe with Team Leeds, captained by Nelson.

And while Hatton shares a tight bond with the former WBO cruiserweight champion, he hasn’t shied away from engaging in a war of words.

Speaking exclusively to Sporf, he said: “Johnny Nelson’s more known for talking these days, rather than fighting. Hopefully, that will pay dividends when it comes to the semi-finals.

“Johnny’s a good friend of mine. I’ve got lots of mates from around there. So there’s a lot of respect for Leeds as there is for London and Birmingham and all the cities. But when I was boxing as an amateur or professional in the early days coming up, we didn’t want to get beaten by a Brummie. We didn’t want to get beaten by a Cockney, and we didn’t want to get beaten by a Yorkshireman. And nothing has changed. The other teams won’t want to get beat by the Mancunians.

“So you’re fighting for yourself to try and springboard your career. But you’re also fighting for your city against another city, so that adds a little bit of spice to it. I think it’s going to be a major success. It’s the first one, and hopefully, it’ll be the first of many. 

Ricky Hatton targets showdown and an English Breakfast with Tom Skinner

In the other semi-final clash, Tom Skinner’s London will go head-to-head with Jaykae’s Birmingham, and providing the Apprentice star makes it through, a barnburner with Hatton in the final could be the stuff of legend.

And while the pair are both partial to a couple of sausages and black pudding in the morning, they’ll have to delay a potential chat over breakfast and instead focus on guiding their teams to glory.

Hatton laughed: “At the end of the day, he’s successful at what he’s done. He’s come from nowhere. He’s a big name, and the boxers will look at him and go, ‘Look what he’s done’.

“He likes an English breakfast, and he likes a pint. So, I think me and him will get on like a house on fire then, won’t we? At the end of the day, the fighters are going to have their trainers, they’re going to have their game plan, and they’ve got to be nice and fit. What they need from a team captain is someone who can inspire them. I know I’ll be able to inspire them. Johnny will be able to inspire them, and even though we’re from a boxing background, Tom and Jaykae are successful, so they’ll inspire their lads too.”

The Box Off pits Manchester against Leeds

With the boxing world buzzing for the competition to commence, the founder of the tournament, Razi Hassan, is positively salivating at the prospect of watching Hatton and Nelson battle it out.

He beamed: “Ricky Hatton is synonymous with his home city; he’s a big Man City fan and a huge lover of boxing. His passion comes through in everything he does. So, there was only ever going to be one captain for Team Manchester; it was always going to be Hatton. We’re incredibly grateful and lucky to have him onboard. He’s going to be bringing a lot of energy.

“There’s a natural rivalry between Manchester and Leeds. Johnny Nelson is on form, and he’s talking up his team. He’s saying that his lads won’t lose to London, Birmingham or Manchester. All the ingredients are there, and it’s cooking up to be something special.

You can watch all the action on Saturday night via Boxing Social’s YouTube channel.

Featured Image Credit: Getty