RICKY HATTON admits he will have some mixed emotions if his fighter Kiryl Relikh beats Ricky Burns tonight.
Relikh has the chance to win a title Hatton once himself held when he challenges for the WBA super-lightweight crown at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.
And while training a fighter to world championship glory will be a massive achievement for ‘The Hitman’, he has no problems in confessing his admiration for Burns as a boxer and as a person.
“This is a great opportunity and a great time for Kiryl but going up against someone like Ricky Burns is a shame in some ways because we’re like a family in British boxing and I consider him a friend,” Hatton said.
“Anybody who follows the sport has to take their hat off to him for what he’s achieved. He’s been a world champion at three different weights and he’s done Scottish boxing proud.
“In a way, it’s a bit sad that we’re the ones going up to Scotland to dethrone him, but business is business, Kiryl is the mandatory WBA challenger and we couldn’t turn down such a major opportunity.”
Despite having a perfect record consisting of 19 stoppages from 21 fights, Relikh is something of an unknown quantity in the UK.
However, Hatton feels the dynamite-fisted Belarussian will become recognisable name after Friday evening.
“He’s a little bit of an unknown and I think some people probably thought ‘who’s Kiryl Relikh?’ when the fight was announced,” he said.
“They’ll find out on the night because Kiryl is the real deal. He’s very aggressive, hits very hard and loves nothing more than scoring knockouts so I think the fans will really be taken aback by what they see.
“Obviously, it’s a big ask. Ricky Burns is very experienced and he’s proven he’s world class, but we’re very confident. Kiryl’s young, fresh and he’s as hard as they come so I believe he’s going to do the business.”