Ricky Hatton believes David Haye will beat Tyson Fury later this month – but he would love to see the latter emerge triumphant and go on to become Manchester’s next world champion.
Ex-WBA heavyweight champion Haye, 32, faces undefeated 25-year-old Fury on September 28 at Manchester Arena.
Fury, who was born in Wythenshawe, has expressed his belief that he is good enough to see off not only Londoner Haye but also Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, the Ukrainian brothers currently holding all of the heavyweight world titles between them.
And retired former two-weight world champion Hatton, while admitting Fury may well find Haye too tough to handle, has every hope his fellow Mancunian can achieve major global success.
Asked how he expected the fight to pan out, Hatton told Press Association Sport: “My heart rules my head really.
“Tyson is a Manchester lad and you would love to have a heavyweight champion from Manchester.
“But David Haye hits so, so hard and Tyson has been down. My heart says Tyson but my head says Haye.
“Although Tyson has been put down a few times, he gets up and he is big - the last time David Haye fought someone the size of Tyson Fury it was Wladimir Klitschko (when Haye lost his WBA title in 2011) and he was scared to death of him.
“So you never know - maybe Tyson’s frame and size might work for him.”
Last November Hatton was in the ring himself, returning after a three-and-a-half year absence and suffering a ninth-round knockout defeat to Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Senchenko at Manchester Arena.
The 34-year-old Briton announced his retirement from professional boxing after the contest and is feeling good about the decision.
This summer his company Hatton Promotions signed a deal with BoxNation and his third child was born.
Asked if he was enjoying his retirement, Hatton - speaking at his gym in Hyde, where Great Britain’s Ultimate Fighting Championship athletes Michael Bisping and Rosi Sexton were training ahead of their bouts at Manchester Arena on October 26 - said: “Yes, to be honest with you.
“I have just become a dad again for the third time - we had a little baby girl who is six weeks old now, so there have been sleepless nights! But it has been great.
“With my comeback fight, I would have loved to have won it, but I got the answers I was searching for - I needed to know if I still had it, and I found out that I hadn’t.
“It meant I could go into retirement happy, rather than sitting on my settee thinking ‘what if’.
“I’m happy now, and my goal from a promoting and training point of view is to bring the next one through.”