Ricky Hatton believes his career-defining victory over Kostya Tszyu was a performance good enough to also beat Floyd Mayweather.
Fifteen years ago Hatton upset pound-for-pound feted Tszyu in his home city of Manchester to capture the IBF light-welterweight title, his greatest result. Two years later in 2007 his undefeated record was taken by Mayweather in Las Vegas.
"Against Kostya Tszyu, with a referee who let the fight flow at a distance and up close, I would have beaten anyone that night including Floyd," Hatton told The Boxing Show on Sky Sports.
"I'm not saying I was a better fighter than Floyd. But the right tactics on the right night at the right time? Even the best can be beaten.
"If I fought him on that night, I think I might have beaten him."
Hatton said about the glorious night in Manchester when Tszyu failed to answer the bell for the 12th round: "They called that my Mount Everest. Once I reached the pinnacle where do you go?
"I won four world titles in two divisions. I fought Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Paulie Malignaggi, Jose Luis Castillo. I climbed Everest a few times!
"I would have done better against Mayweather and Pacquiao if I hadn't burned the candle at both ends.
"People said that one day my lifestyle would catch up to me. When it came to those fights, it caught up to me."
RICKY'S MISSION ACCOMPLISHED👑— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) June 5, 2020
An emotional @HitmanHatton looks back at the moment he was crowned world champion after beating Kostya Tszyu in one of the best ever fights on British soil
📺 Ricky is live now on The Boxing Show on @SkySportsNews! pic.twitter.com/RMG1RZFF1B
Hatton was a major underdog against Australia's Tszyu on June 4, 2005, and 15 years later remembers the nerves he felt.
"In the build-up we were confident, training hard, we had our game-plan," he said. "On the day of the press conference I saw the amount of coverage and interest. Then at the weigh-in.
"On the night I thought to myself: 'I've had a lot of big nights especially at the Manchester Arena but this is the Premiership now, this is the real McCoy'.
"There was a nervous tension in the atmosphere because everybody wanted me to do it, but 80 per cent of my fans thought I wasn't going to.
"When the fight is thrust upon you, you look across the ring at Kostya, you need to have faith in your game-plan and ability. That got me through it. You've got to have the confidence to apply your game-plan even against a formidable fighter like Tszyu."
RICKY'S CROWNING MOMENT 👑— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) June 5, 2020
An emotional Billy Graham recalls the night he guided @HitmanHatton to the summit of boxing with a famous win over Kostya Tszyu
Read more here👉https://t.co/ZWTqsIBdYB
📺Watch the extended interview on The Boxing Show today at 2pm on Sky Sports News pic.twitter.com/27AJIM52OV
Hatton explained: "The tactics? Make a fast start because he was the older man and had been knocking people out so quickly. He hadn't had plenty of rounds under his belt. I had to stay safe and not take chances.
"We got off to a good start.
"Kostya, after two rounds, knew he had to up the pace to stay with my work-rate.
"He settled into a rhythm where he was putting rounds in the bank. I felt it was slipping away. [My trainer] Billy Graham said: 'Keep working and eventually he will break'.
"After nine rounds Billy asked: 'How does he feel?'
"I said: 'He feels weak as a kitten now'.
"He said: 'Then now is the time to jump on him!'
"That's what I did. It was hard. But I knew it was my chance. The game-plan we'd worked on. I knew I could be a few rounds behind but when he dwindled, I had to put my foot on the gas and take advantage.
"I knew I might have to dig deep.
"Down the home straight I recaptured the momentum and he quit on his stool. I can't describe that feeling."