SAN DIEGO – November 24, 2012 – A heartbroken Ricky Hatton apologized to his loyal British fans after a wicked body shot by Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko at the end of the ninth round stopped his comeback bid after a three and a half year absence from the ring.
The judges and most observers had Hatton winning the close fight with Senchenko until the perfectly placed punch dropped Hatton to the canvas. In an emotional post-fight interview with British commentator Paul Dempsey, Hatton said, “I thought I was winning but I showed ring rust… I was enjoying it but I was finding it heavy going. I can’t keep picking my arse up off of the floor. I’m not a failure.”
An hour after the bout ended, Hatton announced at the post-fight news conference his retirement from the sport. Hatton had said he would retire if he didn’t win the fight and he held to it. Though upon losing, he said “I don’t want to make any hasty decisions but I’m absolutely heartbroken… I put my body through hell.
“I don’t want my career to end that way but I have to think about it now,” said Hatton. “I’m sick of losing. You don’t know what that does to me.”
Hatton told his fans, “I’m so sorry. I’m not a quitter and I wanted a challenge. I wanted to prove something but this is so heartbreaking.” They responded with rousing cheers of support for their national hero, and he will never be anything but a hero in their eyes.
Hatton has nothing to apologize for. He won something a lot bigger than a fight tonight in Manchester, England. He won the fight for his life.
After Hatton’s loss at the hands of Manny Pacquiao in 2009, Hatton’s life spiraled down into a personal abyss. Alcohol. Drugs. Depression. A suicide attempt. Welterweight Hatton gained 70 pounds, nearly half his weight.
But the birth of his daughter Millie motivated him to turn things around. So he stepped into the ring against his greatest opponent: his own personal demons. He got clean, he got his head together, and he got healthy. Hatton came back to restore his pride. He felt his impressive career including five world championships had been wiped out after the Pacquiao knockout.
The second-guessing began within minutes of the fight’s conclusion. Why did Hatton take on such a tough opponent in a ten round fight after being out of the sport nearly four years? Why didn’t he arrange a tune-up fight with a less formidable fighter? Hatton lives in a black and white world, and has only one speed: pedal to the metal. “I want to fight world champions and I wouldn’t take an eight-rounder. I had to beat someone like Senchenko to fight for a title,” said Hatton.
The boxing world offered its support and a warm embrace to Hatton after the fight. The great British heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis posted on Twitter, “There is no shame in defeat if u have done ur best.” Oscar De La Hoya posted, “@ HitmanHatton you are a valiant, courageous, and superb human being. Hold your head above the clouds my man. We are all very proud of you!” Promoter Lou DiBella tweeted, “Failure??? No Ricky, you are the farthest thing from that #champion #legend #warrior #winner.”
Hatton is a much-admired warrior for his courage and his return to mental and physical health. Now 45-3-0, he has accomplished a great deal in the ring and has a bright future as a promoter and trainer, which he should not risk with another fight. He has a lot to teach others about stepping up to life’s most difficult challenges. Perhaps there is someone who has watched Hatton’s comeback attempt who was inspired by it to get clean and straighten out his or her own life. As we saw this week with Hector Camacho, there are far worse things in life than losing a boxing match.
Senchenko improves his record to 33-1-0, and has never been knocked down in a fight. What lies ahead for him? Perhaps a rematch with Paulie Malignaggi, whose publicly announced plans to fight Ricky Hatton in Brooklyn in the spring to avenge his 2008 loss to the British boxer have been derailed. After the fight, Malignaggi said he would go back to the drawing board and see what options are available.
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. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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