Hatton informed his manager and longtime friend, Paul Speake, of his intentions. “I had seen Ricky training his boxers and then when he started to train himself, I wondered if Ricky might get the bug,” Speake offered. “When he started to look like his old self, the rumors started about a comeback. I could see that Ricky was enjoying his training and I thought that he might consider a return to the ring. It was only a couple of weeks before he officially announced his comeback that he told us [his team] that he was going to make a comeback. I wasn’t surprised as I knew the Pacquiao training camp was a disaster and Ricky believes that he could have beaten Manny under different circumstances.”
So now they’ve made the leap. The return takes place on 24th November in Hatton’s hometown, Manchester, in the familiar confines of the Manchester Arena (formerly the M.E.N. Arena) where he enjoyed his greatest of nights, stopping the legendary Kostya Tszyu in their penultimate round to win the first of three world titles in two separate weight categories. The opponent across the ring on this particular night will be Vyacheslav Senchenko, a former WBA welterweight champion as recently as April when he suffered his lone reverse in 33 fights to Paul Malignaggi. Hatton says of Senchenko, “When I announced my comeback, I said I would fight good fighters and that I wanted to get back in the mix. Senchenko is a former world champion having lost only one fight, his last against Paulie Malignaggi. He is a tough opponent but I never did things the easy way, so there’s no change there; is there?”
One man with an interest in the fight is Malignaggi himself, who’s previously fought both men and offers a warning, “I think Ricky is very tough to beat in the U.K. not because he necessarily fights better but because the atmosphere to fight him there can mentally wear down a fighter if he is not sure of himself. Senchenko, technically for me, is a better fighter than Hatton. I just question the psychology of the situation for a fighter who has never had to fight in a harsh environment his whole career. To me, that will be the difference. Hatton is in his element in the noisy M.E.N. arena; it will be tough for Senchenko to deal with it because he has never fought under that kind of mental duress. Senchenko is not bad; Hatton should win but he is mistaken if he chose him thinking the same Paulie Malignaggi [Hatton] beat in 2008 is the same guy that just beat Senchenko, therefore he should handle him easily. I hope he didn’t choose Senchenko as an opponent with that frame of mind because it would be a mistake.”
Hatton makes his long-term goals crystal clear, also hinting at uncivil wars with his fellow Brits, “I want to [fight] somebody of note and get back in the mix. I hope to challenge for another world title and that is my ultimate goal: to become a world champion again. I think by fighting Senchenko, people will realise that I am serious about my comeback. There’s talk of Amir Khan or Kell Brook; those fights appeal to me but not straight away. Maybe they are down the line.”
For over a decade now, Hatton has remained a fan favourite. Tens of thousands once made the transatlantic journey to watch him ultimately come up short when he met Floyd Mayweather Jnr. in December of 2007 and he’s also quick to pay homage to the throngs of loyal fans who have already sold out the venue. “It never ceases to amaze me the support that I have with my fans, 20,000 tickets sold out within 48 hours with no opponent [at the time] and no undercard announced.”
Hatton’s role as a promoter allows him to chime about several of the fighters under his promotional umbrella, who all appear on this historic night, “I have got a great stable of boxers at Hatton Promotions and I have a great undercard for the 24th November. Chief support sees Scott Quigg, who recently won boxing writers’ ‘Young Boxer of the Year’ [award] for 2012 against Rendall Munroe for the vacant WBA super bantamweight interim world title, Gary Buckland v Steve Foster Jnr. for the British super featherweight title. Sergey Rabchenko defends his European light middleweight title. Martin Murray, one of the best middleweights in the U.K., fights and a great prospect in [James] ‘Jazza’ Dickens [will also be part of the undercard]. There will be more boxers added to the card in the coming weeks.”
Hatton’s had more than his share of problems over the past few years; however, thankfully things seem far more tranquil these days. “My main priorities now are my girlfriend, Jennifer, and my kids, Campbell and Millie,” he said. “I want to make my kids proud of me.” With regard to the reported incident with his father, Ray (who allegedly assaulted the younger Hatton), he goes on, “As for the rest of my family, they have always supported me and I am sure that they will support me again. All families have their differences from time to time; I’m no different. Things resolve themselves over time.”
Over the annals of time, very few boxers have enjoyed successful comebacks. What would represent a successful return for Hatton, 45-2 (32), having recently celebrated his 34th birthday last month? “My aim is to win another world title but it’s more than just winning in the ring. A success for me would be redemption, making people proud of me again for the right reasons. I want people talking about me again for the right reasons; I want people saying to my kids and my grandkids, ‘He was a good champion and a good man.’”
Ricky, we already know you’re a good man and a good champion but you can be sure we’re ready and waiting for Act Two.
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