RICKY HATTON fought the best of his generation against Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
But neither gave the Manchester hero as much trouble as Luis Collazo.
And welcoming him to 147lb was the rugged Collazo, from New York with Puerto Rican descent.
Hatton looked on track for his easiest night’s work after scoring a knockdown in the opening round.
But Collazo came on strong down the stretch and pushed the fight so close that the knockdown was actually the deciding factor.
So despite the dazzling skills of Mayweather and one-punch power of Pacquiao, it was that night in Boston which sticks out the most for Hatton.
He said on talkSPORT: “That was my toughest fight.
“I mean, getting beat by Pacquiao like I did was very tough to come to terms with and Floyd Mayweather was just technically so good.
“From a physical point of view [Collazo was tougher]. I never made fights easy for myself. I was always going to have it out with someone.”
Hatton was a career light-welterweight – where in 2005 he beat the great Kostya Tszyu – but he moved up to become a two-division champ.
He said: “I’m 5ft 6in. I’m not tall for junior welterweight. So, to move up to welterweight…
“Billy Graham, my trainer, said, ‘No, don’t do it, Rick. Don’t do it.’ But I wanted to do what my heroes had done.
“I wanted to try to become a world champion in two weight divisions. I took it, and I knocked him down in the first ten seconds.
“I thought, ‘I’ll be in the bar in half an hour at this rate.’ But he got up and I won it on a unanimous decision, but only by one point.
“I think it was only the knockdown that won it. The people that I could bully at 10 stone. When I got close, I could push them, shove them all.
“I couldn’t do it at 10st 7lbs. I hit him, and the shots just bounced off him. I went to shove him back and he didn’t move.
“I thought, ‘Oh this is going to be a long night.’”
Hatton, now 44 and over a decade retired, won Collazo’s WBA title that night but paid the price for it.
He said: “It was the worst after I’ve felt. I had hot sweats, shaky, shivering and I couldn’t even go to the afterparty I was in such a bad way.
“Every time he hit me – Floyd Mayweather wasn’t a big puncher, he was technically unreal – but [Collazo] was a big punching southpaw, and every time he hit me, oh my lord!”
Collazo, 42, fought as recently as March, losing to Angel Ruiz Astorga.
Hatton would go on to lose in ten rounds to Mayweather and then be brutally KO’d by Pacquiao two years later.
He retired in 2012 after defeat to Vyacheslav Senchenko but he did make a comeback last year for an exhibition with Juan Manuel Marquez, 49.