Michael Rosenthal

Ricky Hatton proud of little brother

LOS ANGELES – Matthew Hatton has always had to battle both his opponents and comparisons to his more-famous brother.

No one knows that more than Ricky Hatton, who made an appearance at a media workout for Saul Alvarez, the man Matthew will fight for the vacant WBC junior middleweight title Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on HBO.

The elder Hatton said the comparisons aren’t fair for a specific reason.

“When I was an amateur, I won nine national amateur titles,” said the former two-division titleholder as a pro. “Matthew had only 10, 15 amateur bouts, something like that. He had to learn in the pro game. He lost a couple of six-rounders along the way, had a couple of draws, but he’s getting into his prime now.

“So where he’s come from to where he is today is just as big an achievement as me, really. It’s a credit to him. I’m very proud of him.”

Ricky acknowledges that Matthew is “up against it” on Saturday.

The biggest challenge for the younger Hatton (41-4-2, 16 knockouts) might be fighting at junior middleweight, although the fighters agreed to a catch weight of 150 pounds. He is the current European welterweight champion and has fought primarily at 147 pounds for years.

Alvarez isn’t a full-fledged 154-pounder either but is the naturally bigger of the two. He can fight comfortably anywhere between 147 and 154..

“Matthew is up against it, no doubt, especially moving up in weight,” Ricky said. “He’s not the fighter he was a few years ago, though. He is much improved and he’s a lot stronger now. But moving up in weight … frankly … is going to be tough on him.”

That said, Ricky won’t be surprised if Alvarez (35-0-1, 26 KOs) loses for the first time on Saturday.

“Alvarez has had a lot of fights but he’s only 20,” Ricky said. “I think he can be a big star. The question is whether he’s there yet. This might be the right time for Matthew to catch him.”

And what about the prospects of Ricky fighting again?

His substance abuse has been well documented but he looked surprisingly trim on Tuesday, which he said was the result of working with fighters in his role as a promoter in the UK.

That’s about as close as he’ll come to returning to the ring.

“The fire isn’t burning like it used to,” he said. “That might come back; you never know. But until it does, I’m staying where I am.”

For now, that’s rooting on his brother in the biggest fight of his life.

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