Ricky Hatton acknowledges Floyd Mayweather Jr's genius 10 years after their fight

Exclusive: 'He was a genius' - Ricky Hatton reflects on his fight with Floyd Mayweather (1:44)

On the ten year anniversary of his world title fight, Ricky Hatton tells ESPN what it was like to face Floyd Mayweather.  (1:44)

A vicious left hook, and then another one. A distance-finding jab and one final hook. Ricky Hatton is on his back. The fight's over.

It's been a decade since Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s 10-round destruction of Britain's still-idolised sporting hero but to most it can still be vividly recalled in just 10 seconds.

After the 31 minutes and 27 seconds they spent battling each other on Dec. 8 2007 , it was the Manchester fighter who came out of the fight in defeat -- his first in his 44-fight career at the time. 10 years of reflection later and Hatton's opinion of why he lost hasn't changed from the immediate post-fight moments spent in his Las Vegas changing room.

"After every single fight I've had, it was the only fight where I've sat in the changing rooms, bit down and thought to myself 'wow, he was good'," Hatton exclusively told ESPN. "Just his defence, his movement and just how clever he was.

"He knew when to put his foot on the gas a little bit, when to soak it up a little bit, let me blow myself out, let the storm blow itself out a bit and then put his foot on the gas. I would go as far and say a genuis, absolutely great."

Boxers such as Hatton are one-offs. An elite fighter with a down-to-earth demeanour adored by the average person. Not only was he this untouchable superstar people watched on TV in faraway places, he was also the one down the pub when not scheduled to be in the gym. Perhaps to the detriment of his sporting ability in the long run but it's what made him who he was, and is, today.

"People say maybe I could have got better performances out of myself or I could have a got few more fights out of myself if I looked after my body a little bit more but at the end of the day it was because I was jack the lad.

"I went to the darts, went to the football, had a little pint, no airs and graces. I think that's why I had the fan base I had. Would I change anything? I don't know, that's a double edge sword for me."

A fight of a similar magnitude to 2007's Mayweather vs. Hatton ever happening again remains a very distant and unlikely possibility.

While Anthony Joshua teases of a potential Vegas unification with American heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder -- a fight that could tempt another 20,000 British supporters over to the west coast of America -- fans continue to reminisce about the complete chaos from Dec. 2007 which Hatton fueled.

"It didn't need a rocket scientist to tell you this was the big time and it was brilliant," Hatton added. "It ended up in defeat but when I look at the 24/7, what we did and then we ended up in Las Vegas for the fight and the Brits all invading, it will never be seen again.

"I thought the only fight that could push it close will be Mayweather vs. Pacquiao for crowd, but it didn't.

"It was a better fight because you had the two pound-for-pound fighters fighting each other but I mean for atmosphere and occasion, it didn't even come close."

This defeat turned out to be the beginning of the end of Hatton's career. He had four more high-profile fights but they involved two more loses and it wasn't long before he hung the gloves up.

And for all of Hatton's admiration for Mayweather's craft on that night, which has only grown in the 10 years since his their encounter, the fighting instinct still clearly swarms deep inside Hatton long after his retirement.

"I don't want to sound like a broken record here," he said. "But I will say it until the day I die, I think when all my fans booed the national anthem -- which the American public don't get as us Brits do that at football matches -- we don't mean nothing by it. It's just the way it is in our country but they don't like it.

"I can't help but think that played in Joe Cortez's mind by the way he refereed, he wouldn't let me in, he wouldn't let me break.

"I'm not saying I would have won the fight anyway, but the ref didn't help. If I had any chance, the referee took the legs from under me, I felt."

It would be unnatural for such a highly competitive, brilliant athlete to not reflect upon the very few days that didn't go their way and not have a feeling of 'what if' that had happened instead.

Whether Cortez did restrict Hatton's chances of victory will remain a debate forever, but the now 39-year-old going down as one of Britain's most gifted and ferocious fighters of all time is for certain.

The former two-weight world champion's bout with Mayweather may not have had the glorious ending he would have hoped for, but it was a compelling chapter in a dazzling, unforgettable career.