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August 28, 2009

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Emotional Hatton meets Ali

RICKY Hatton welcomed Muhammad Ali to his gym in Manchester, England, on Wednesday and admitted not even a meeting with The Greatest could convince him to get back in the ring again.

Hatton, the former world light-welterweight champion, hasn't fought since a second-round knockout loss to Filipino Manny Pacquiao in May and is now promoting rather than fighting.

The 30-year-old British fighter, known for his aggressive, body-punching style, said he was reduced to tears when meeting 67-year-old Ali, who has Parkinson's Disease and makes rare public appearances.

"He's not just one of the greatest boxers of all time, he's one of the greatest men of all time. He's made the entertainment side of boxing what it is today," Hatton said.

"Bearing in mind how poorly he is, for him still to come to the gym, raise his hands to the fans and have a picture, that's why he's the greatest."

Joined by his wife Lonnie, Ali is touring Britain and Ireland, making appearances at a series of dinners to raise money for his charities, including the Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Hatton, who has only two losses in a 47-fight career, said that, even after meeting Ali, he was no closer to deciding whether to fight again.

"I've had a lot of fights and sometimes, when you've been in this game as long as I have, running in the morning, training in the afternoon, dieting, I've reached the stage that I've had enough now, I want a bit of a rest," he said.


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