HONG KONG - Former world champion Ricky Hatton says that he hopes to find his successor in Asia, with the popular Briton homing in on the region in the hope of unearthing the next big thing in boxing.
A former world light-welterweight and welterweight champion, the 34-year-old Hatton was knocked out on his return to the ring last month, and insists that he will not be coming out of retirement again.
It was time to move on, he told AFP in Hong Kong, where he staged a night of boxing on Tuesday under the Asia-Pacific arm of Hatton Promotions, which has set up an office in the southern Chinese city.
"This is such a successful, big part of the world and nobody here does boxing so that's the whole purpose of us coming here," the likeable Hatton said.
"The law of averages says there must be some talent out here somewhere and I'd like to raise the profile of boxing out here.
"Boxing is a massive passion for me and there's nothing I'd like better than to be the first promoter to bring a world champion through to this part of the world, to give people someone to be proud of, like the fans were of me."
Hatton insisted that he had laid his demons to rest despite defeat to Vyacheslav Senchenko in November, and hopes to get some measure of the satisfaction he got in the ring from finding new talent.
"I'll try to live my dreams through other boxers," he said.
"There is such a fantastic sporting heritage here," he added on what he said was his third visit to Hong Kong, where he saw local boxer Rex Tso win the vacant WBC Asia Continental flyweight title.
"There is such a fantastic sporting heritage here. They have mixed martial arts here, which is very popular, so I am a little bit flabbergasted to think why boxing isn't so popular.
"So that's something I am hoping to change and hopefully this is the start of something and more shows."
Hatton, one of the biggest names in British boxing over the past decade, said he was yet to begin his search in mainland China -- which is beginning to emerge as a force in amateur boxing after the sport was long banned under former leader Mao Zedong.
"Whatever you do, you need to be able to walk before you can run and hopefully this is the start of something," Hatton said of the prospect of going into mainland China one day.
"It's such a massive, massive population and a massively successful area, and nobody boxes, which is incredible.
"I am sure that there is some wonderful talent out there. Nobody has probably looked for the talent from a boxing point of view until myself.
"I'd feel very very proud if I can say that Ricky Hatton came to Hong Kong and brought a fighter through to a world title level and made the country proud, just like I like to think I did with my fans.
"Boxing has given me and my family such a wonderful life and I'd like to pass that on to some other youngster and hopefully it will be someone from Asia. That'd be another box ticked in the Ricky Hatton story."
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