SAN DIEGO – November 23, 2012 – The last time fight fans saw Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, he was flat on his back looking up at the ceiling after suffering one of the most brutal knockouts of the last 10 years at the hands of Manny Pacquiao in round two of their much anticipated fight.
That was three and a half years ago. As a result of that knockout, Hatton retired from boxing. Life got rough for him. He battled substance abuse, depression, and had a falling out with his family. The welterweight Hatton gained 70 pounds, nearly half his weight.
Hatton finally got into the ring again to do battle with his demons head on. He went to rehab and he went to counseling. He became father to a little girl, Millie. As he got his life in order, he considered a return to boxing. Unlike many fighters who come back for the money, Hatton came back to restore his pride. He felt his impressive career with five world championships had been wiped out after the Pacquiao knockout.
The 34-year-old Hatton will step into the ring for the first time in three and a half years against 35-year-old former WBA welterweight champion Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in Manchester, England Saturday night. The bout airs live on Showtime in the U.S. at 5 p.m. Eastern.
Senchenko (32-1-0) lost his first professional fight to Paulie Malignaggi by TKO earlier this year on April 29. Hatton (45-2-0) is still ranked the number five welterweight contenders by the WBA, with 21 knockouts to his credit. His only losses are to Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. He’s admired in the U.S. as a warrior, rightly so. But he is revered in England and there are no more passionate fight fans anywhere. They’ve packed 45,000 seat arenas to see Hatton fight.
Those boisterous fans showed up at the weigh-in at Manchester City Hall with drums and horns, making a real racket as the fighters weighed in. They both hit the scale at 10 stone, 6, and 10 ounces. That’s 146.5 pounds. Hatton isn’t all the way back to his peak form, but for a man who was grossly overweight earlier this year, Hatton’s transformation is impressive. Senchecko is nearly four inches taller and a lean, hard looking fighter.
Hatton and Senchenko engaged in a silent staredown between two stone faces with no trash talk. After the weigh-in, Hatton told the fans, “You’ve always been there for me… I won’t let you down Saturday.”
It’s great to see Hatton back in the sport. To his credit he didn’t make an easy fight for himself. He’s testing his skills and he wants things to move fast. This bout will allow the fans and experts to see where Hatton’s skills stand now, and whether he’s got good enough form to take on the bigger names.
If Hatton wins, he’s already got a deal in place to fight Malignaggi in New York early next year. If he doesn’t, he’s a still a winner in the most important fight of all, the fight of life. Having gotten clean and sober, healthy, acknowledging his problems and accepting help for them is a marvelous lesson for his fans. Hatton is to be admired for it. And fans love a comeback.
Credit to Showtime for picking up the live broadcast, and points for adding Malignaggi as the color commentator for the bout. The Twitter King is never at a loss for words.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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