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Boxing | International

Night of tears as Ricky returns

Ricky Hatton was set for a night of tears, win or lose, when he returned to the ring on Saturday night.

During his absence of more than three years, the 34-year-old former world champion battled alcohol and drug problems, depression and suicidal thoughts.

He sought refuge from his troubles by embarking upon a comeback in front of his Manchester home crowd.

Britain's most popular boxer of the modern era faced Vyacheslav Senchenko in a welterweight contest that he claimed was all about "redemption".

However, he was knocked out in the ninth round and re-retired after the bout.

Hatton's problems started when he was knocked out by Filipino Manny Pacquiao in two rounds in May 2009. That was two years after about 18 000 fans followed him to Las Vegas, where he lost on points to Floyd Mayweather Jr. "

He was left haunted by the savage defeat, one of only two professional losses, and his personal life descended into chaos.

A former world champion at light-welterweight and welterweight, Hatton piled on weight as he drank excessively.

But during a training session at his gym on the outskirts of Manchester he appeared to be in good physical and mental shape.

"I've come back to win a world title and end my career the way I should have ended it," Hatton said.

"I have more hunger now than when I fought Kostya Tszyu in 2005. No one thought I could beat him. Getting flattened by Pacquiao, the personal problems and the rest of it … put that together and that's what Senchenko has got coming to him.

"Just because you're the world champion, and everybody thinks the sun shines out of your backside, doesn't mean you're any different to the next man.


"I've got this lovely gym and a nice house and boxing has been very, very good to me. But that couldn't do anything for me when I wanted to kill myself."

There had been talk of future fights against fellow Britons Amir Khan and Kell Brook but Hatton knew the length of his comeback would hinge on how he fared against Senchenko, who earlier this year was the WBA welterweight champion.

"It all depends on the manner of the performance on November 24," he said. "If I stink the place out I could retire and say I gave it my best shot.

"I want my family, fans and community to be proud of me and not remember me for the loss against Pacquiao and all the bad stuff that has happened to me in the last three years.

"I can't guarantee I'll be able to hold it together after the fight but before it, it's what I've got to do; that's what a champion has to do.

"But let's not have another Manny Pacquiao revisited where I'm like a chicken with no head."


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