There's only one Ricky Hatton...and after the latest effort from bantamweight Zhanat Zhakiyanov there is finally one boxer in his training stable with a world title.
Hatton's promotional company had previously claimed its first titlist less than a year ago when heavyweight Lucas Browne rallied to knock out Ruslan Chagaev to win a secondary version of the WBA title. The unbeaten Aussie had to give it to right back after his post-fight drug test came back dirty, but in coaching Zhakiyanov to victory over Rau'Shee Warren last Friday stateside in Toledo, Ohio, the iconic Brit has a clean performance over which to thump his chest.
"I'm very proud of Zhanat,” Hatton said in a statement through Hatton Promotions' press office following Zhakiyanov's heroic conquest. “He's been with me a number of years and I always knew he’d be a world champion.
“It was similar to the Kostya Tszyu fight (where Hatton won the World super lightweight title in June '05) in that we knew he wasn't going to out box Warren due to his natural talent and speed."
It was a lesson learned the hard way by Zhakiyanov (25-1, 20KOs), who was dropped twice in the opening round. Aside from a 15-month layoff heading into the night, the diminutive Kazakhstani was caught off-guard by Warren's blazing hand speed and underrated power.
That's where a great coach comes into play, and Hatton knew his own night's work in getting his boxer back in the fight required more than throwing a towel over his shoulder and just looking the part.
Having trained Zhakiyanov since 2013 and promoted him since 2012, Hatton knew exactly what to expect on fight night, interjecting at the right time and helping his charge right the ship.
“I knew he would lose some of the early rounds, but if he kept on at him and kept him working, I knew our time would come down the stretch," Hatton truly believed. "Having said that, nothing could have prepared me for what happened in the first round.
"Zhanat got through it and ultimately the tactics worked as he did start to get to him down the back stretch. He dug deep like champions have to do and that's why he has that world title belt around his waist."
It would require sweating out a wide variance on the judges' scorecards. Warren - the only three-time U.S. Olympic male boxer in history - was awarded a 115-111 tally on one scorecard. It wasn't enough to prevent his title reign from going one-and-done, however, as the card was overruled by tallies of 115-111 and 116-110 in favor of Zhakiyanov to claim the bantamweight crowd in front of a partisan crowd in his opponent's home state.
It proved a redeeming moment for Hatton. At his peak he enjoyed title reigns at super lightweight and welterweight while serving as far and away Great Britain's biggest box office draw and crossover star status in the United States.
Aside from violent knockout losses to the two very best of his generation in Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, the darkest moments of Hatton's career - and adult life - included concerning spells with alcoholism, drug addiction, depression and thoughts of suicide.
Having rediscovered his way, Hatton is back to his jolly old self - and for good reason after his client's career-best effort.
“On a personal note another box was ticked for me after becoming a four-time champion myself, I have now trained a world champion, promoted a world champion and promoted a world heavyweight champion (Lucas Browne), which makes me unbelievably proud," Hatton said.
“We have a good training team behind us in myself Mike Jackson and Blain Younis and I believe more champions will follow.”