BLACKPOOL cruiserweight Matty Askin may have come home from Poland vanquished in his bid to win the World Boxing Organisation inter-continental title, but he is far from empty-handed.
His backers have announced a major sponsorship deal, which will give him a massive boost, in terms of finance, profile, training gear and facilities.
The deal, a one-year rolling contract to allow him to be a full-time fighter, is worth £30,000.
During the 12 months of the arrangement he is expected to have five fights, possibly starting in February and still working under the Hatton promotional banner.
In addition, he has agreed a deal with Geezers Boxing, who will provide him with valuable equipment - they are same firm that supplies David Haye and Carl Froch
The announcement comes just days after Askin lost on a round 11 stoppage against unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki, of Poland, at the Hilton Hotel in Warsaw.
The driving force behind the deal is businessman Tony Mulligan, who has persuaded around 10 companies to finance the deal, which is a complete game-changer for Askin.
Earlier in the year after his defeat to subsequent British champion Jon-Lewis Dickinson, he was seriously thinking of quitting the fight game, finding it a hard struggle to finance his professional ambitions.
Fight-fan Mulligan said: “I first met Matty when he did a labouring job for me for a week, and I saw then how hard he worked.
“He has a lot of talent, and he is a good role model for young people in Blackpool.
“The town gets a lot of bad publicity from that Channel 4 programme (999-What’s Your Emergency?) and Matty is a young man who can show Blackpool in the right way by bringing a belt back to the town and making people feel proud.
“This deal, which involves each firm putting in money each month, means that Matty can even have high-class training in America and Europe and help him on his way to becoming a world champion on day.
“Matty knows that he will have to put in the work, otherwise we would drop him like a stone, but we know that won’t happen.
“We want to give Matty a helping hand along the way to a title, though when the time comes and he progresses to the big money fights and we step aside.”
For Askin, learning of the deal just 24 hours after his defeat in Poland, it is a God-send.
He said: “I had to walk home when I learned about the deal and I must admit that I had tears in my eyes.
“It’s now up to me to pay back my mum and dad and all the people in Blackpool for the faith they have put in me.”
The contract makes up for the pain he suffered in losing in Poland, including busted ribs.
Mulligan said: “Matty had less than three weeks to prepare in Poland, and the flight took 15 hours and had to buy his own food and couldn’t use his own gloves.
“He was boxing a man who is now going on to challenge for the IBF world title, and he really shook Glowacki in the eighth round. I know the people from the WBO were impressed with his performance.”
The rib injury has scuppered any remaining chance of Askin appearing on the under-card of Brian Rose’s British light-middleweight title defence at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on December 14.
Askin said: “Whether I won or not in Poland, I was not planning to box next month anyway, but I can’t wait to get started again next year - I keep texting my trainer Mathew Ellis because I can’t quite believe I have got this deal.”
n RICKY Hatton admits girlfriend Jennifer Dooley took a lot of convincing that his return to the boxing ring was a good idea.
The 34-year-old former two-weight world champion will contest his first fight in three and a half years at Manchester Arena tomorrow night when he takes on Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in a sell-out welterweight bout.
Hatton’s personal troubles since his brutal 2009 defeat by Manny Pacquiao have been well documented as battles with spiralling weight, drink, drugs and depression left him suicidal. He began to turn things around six months ago before contemplating a return to the ring, something Dooley worried would put his recovery at risk.
Hatton said: “Jennifer was the hardest to convince. People have said, ‘Did boxing save your life?’ But I’d got myself together mentally before I even mentioned a comeback.
“I said to Jen the first day, ‘I’m thinking of giving it another go’, and Jennifer went, ‘Oh Rick, what are you doing, you’re all right now, why do you want to put it in jeopardy again’?
“When I explained it to her I said: ‘You’ve seen more than most what I’ve been through, how bad it was, you coming downstairs in the morning and I’m having a nervous breakdown with a knife to my wrist. You know why I have to come back. It’s hurt me that I’ve let myself down.’”