The welterweight contender is hoping for a passionate Reds backing as he prepares to fight Michael Lomax in Manchester...
How excited are you to return to the ring?
“I’ve been out for a long time after losing to Kell Brook in March and I’m keen to impress in front of my home crowd. The fight is at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre, not far from my house. I rarely fight in Manchester so I’m keen to get back to winning ways.”
Your follow-up fight is already scheduled: a world title challenge?
“That’s right. I will fight Chris van Heerden for the IBO belt in South Africa in March. It will be my third attempt to win a world title and it could be my last, so I’m going to try my very best and hopefully win it for the fans that have backed me throughout my career.”
Speaking of titles, how did you react to last May’s Premier League finale?
“It was unbearable and having the title taken away from us in the last minute was heartbreaking. I don’t think we will ever see a day of football like that again. We have got to bounce back and I’m sure Sir Alex will definitely want to shut the ‘noisy neighbours’ up.”
How was it being the only Red in the Hatton family?
“I usually attend the derbies with Ricky but we didn’t go last season, which was a blessing in disguise. It has not been too bad though – obviously towards the end of last season I gave them all a bit of space, but it’s not nice seeing City shirts and scarves everywhere you go.”
What is your assessment of our new recruits?
“Robin van Persie was the big signing and he has started brilliantly, but Shinji Kagawa has impressed me the most. I hadn’t heard of him before he signed, but I’ve been amazed by his start to the season – an intelligent player with lots of quality.”
Are you confident United can reclaim the title?
“I’m certain we can, but it will be close with City pushing us all the way. We are definitely the two strongest teams and I think we have the edge. It’s a cliché in both football and boxing but retaining your title is harder than winning it. Hopefully that’ll work in our favour this term.”