By Rob Dore | Sports writer and Manc wannabe
Three and a half years on from his devastating second round knock-out loss to Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton returns to the ring against the recently deposed for WBA welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko. Inevitably questions have been asked regarding the reasoning behind the Hitman’s decision to make a comeback at 34 years of age. The immediate years after his last fight were filled with drugs scandals, post-glory depression and a general sense of lacking control in his life.
None of which are positive indicators of a glorious return for one of Britain’s most popular and successful fighters.
There is the argument that he needed those years of madness to purge his system. After dinner speaking, his own chatshow on Nuts TV, aspirations of being a stand-up comedian. Add in leaving his trainer Billy Graham in 2008 and hooking up with arch-rival Floyd Mayweather Jnr’s father, Floyd Mayweather Snr, although an excellent trainer, the move certainly didn’t tie-in with the self-stated image of a down to earth Manchester City fan who liked pints and pies with the lads between training camps.
With a clearer head and a healthier lifestyle outside the ring, there is the possibility that we’re yet to see the best of Ricky Hatton. Carl Froch is 35 years old and he has never been better. The gap between fights for Hatton may make being better than he was a difficult ask but at least good enough to beat the likes of Senchenko.
There is of course the possibility that he has lost the fire needed to fight. Something which he won’t find out for sure until the fight begins. So neither will we.
Ring-rust is another issue and if Senchenko is to stand a chance of adding to his impressive looking 21 knock-out victories, he’ll want to strike early. Allowing someone of Hatton’s ability and experience to settle in to a fight is dangerous, regardless of how long he has been out.
Despite a record of 32 wins in 33 fights, including three successful defenses of the WBA welterweight title, Senchenko has never been in the ring with a fighter of Hatton’s calibre. His loss the Paul Malignaggi, a fighter who Hatton dominated to an eleventh round stoppage four years ago, is an indicator of the gap.
Hatton’s ability may be undermined by some but he fought the best fighters throughout his career and lost just twice. Losing to Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Manny Pacquiao, two of the best fighters in generations, is hardly something to be embarrassed about.
What may be embarrassing is the manner of the loss to Pacquiao. Such a devastating knockout is a bitter end to a glorious career so it’s easy to understand why he has chosen to give it one last go. If Hatton, who has looked in excellent shape since announcing his return back in September, is anywhere close to his best then he will outclass a fighter whose record has more padding than a teenage girl’s bra.
Hatton is the favourite to win at 2/7 and is 5/6 to win inside the distance. He has never possessed one punch knock-out but Hatton hits hard, especially to the body. If Senchenko takes a few to the floating rib he’ll be in trouble. The Ukrainian is a solid fighter but he’s not good enough to beat the Hitman. If that’s who gets in through the ropes tonight.