Ricky Hatton in Dubai

The boxing champion is in Dubai to promote Meydan’s World Cup footie events. He talks sport, allergies and Frank Bruno with Charley Court

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

We hear you’re attending Meydan’s World Cup events while you’re in Dubai.
I’m really excited. I’m a massive football fan and gutted I can’t make the World Cup in South Africa. Now it’s finally here, why not make a big thing of it? That’s what they’re doing at Meydan.

Will you be riding any horses?
[Laughs] I don’t ride too often. I found out I’m allergic to horses.

Really? What happens?
I think it’s the flies, but my face and ears start swelling up and my eyes start watering.

Talking of footie, didn’t you score in a Soccer Aid charity match in the UK last week?
Yes – it was unbelievable. I don’t know how the lads at the World Cup feel when they take a penalty, but I got nervous just doing a charity match. I was scared to death. But I have to say mine was the best penalty.

You’ve also been busy launching a clothing range, opening a fitness club, working on Hatton Boxing TV, and mentoring young amateur boxers through Hatton Promotions. Which project has meant the most to you?
Everything, really. I want to do a bit for the youngsters. That’s why I’m here in Dubai. There’s not a lot of boxing in this part of the world, so I’m hoping I can introduce the sport to the Middle East.

White-collar boxing is pretty big over here…
Yeah, who knows? There could be a world of talent out here waiting to be discovered.

Who has been your friendliest boxing opponent?
Paulie Malignaggi [an Italian-American boxer from NYC]. He was really friendly – a bit of a loudmouth before the fight, but he was a genuine and sincere lad. It was the first time I had to hug my opponent after a fight – he cried in the ring, so I put my arms around him to comfort him.

What really winds you up?
[Laughs] I’m actually quite a laid-back guy. But Manchester City [Ricky’s team] haven’t done too well lately and [Manchester] United have, which really gets under my skin.

What has been your most memorable boxing moment?
My win against [Russian-born Aussie boxer] Kostya Tszyu and, through boxing, getting an MBE from the Queen of England. Not many boxers have achieved that.

What do you make of Dubai?
I absolutely love it; it’s hotter than Manchester, that’s for sure. It’s an exciting place that’s always developing. I’m just really enjoying being here.

What do you have planned for the rest of your time here?
I’m doing some speeches. It’s nice to talk to people about my career – it’s my way of saying thank you.

Finally, who is your all-time favourite boxer?
Roberto Duran from Panama. He was exciting, fearless; he never took a step back. I try to model myself on him, my hero.

Meydan’s World Cup screenings, featuring live commentary from Sam Allardyce, Peter Reid and more, continue until July 11. Tickets are Dhs375, including food, drinks and entertainment, from www.robandderek.com.

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