Hatton-Graham split gets interesting

Grahamhatton_601990_medium You may have heard already: Ricky Hatton and trainer Billy Graham have split. But it might not be SO simple.

See, first we heard that Ricky was quite upset about Graham quitting due to injuries to his hands making it exceedingly difficult for him to continue on in his role. I mean, as boxing fans, how often do we really think about the strain put on a trainer? They take beatings, too, that are far more than the everyday bloke encounters. A trainer's hands over the years no doubt suffer greatly.

Graham, who has trained Hatton for 11 years, says he was fired by the Hattons. For a relationship that was portrayed as so father-son-meets-two working class heroes hangin' out together, I have to admit I never really saw something like this coming.

It doesn't shock me that Hatton is splitting with Graham, or that he'd want to. He and Billy seemed to snipe back and forth a smidge during the Mayweather fight; a lot of folks wondered if they were really getting along. But like this? Seems out of nowhere.

I have to admit something else, too. I don't know Ray Hatton, I don't know much about Ray Hatton. But there's something about him that comes off as unlikeable whenever I see him quoted anywhere. Is that just me?

For now, the head trainer in the Hatton camp is Lee Beard, Graham's former assistant. But there is scuttlebutt being bandied about that Floyd Mayweather, Sr., may take over as Hatton's chief second. That's a clash of personalities absolutely made for a reality TV show, probably.

Graham doesn't seem to be holding a grudge, just that he wants "the truth" to be known, that he was fired and didn't quit. He says he still expect to be in Vegas for Hatton's November bout with Paulie Malignaggi, but as a spectator.

Hatton-Graham is one of those rare fighter-trainer teams that just plain worked. Ricky Hatton never had exceptional skills; not for a single moment. But he and Graham worked their asses off, and Ricky stands today as a professional fighter with a 44-1 record, whose only loss came to the world's best fighter in a weight class that was too high for him.

I'm sort of sad to see them break. I guess maybe I wanted to believe in the good story of Hatton and Graham retiring together.

Instead, Billy Graham will officially retire from boxing this Friday, when he takes the corner for his friend Ojay Abrahams, a knockaround guy (20-75-4) from Watford who is retiring at age 44. Maybe Billy deserved a better, bigger final fight. Or maybe this is exactly right for a guy like him.'

Good luck and good health, Billy.

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