Ricky Hatton Is Back

By: Danny Richardson

Follow me @Danny_SDBoxing

After weeks of rumours, speculation, holiday pictures and opinions, at a press conference in Manchester today, the most popular British fighter of all time, Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton announced that after 3 years away from the ring, he will make a comeback on Novermber 24th against an as yet unnamed opponent. Hatton, who will be 34 by his return date, has not fought since being brutally KO’d inside 2 rounds by a prime Manny Pacquiao in May 2009, only his second career defeat after suffering a loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr 2 years earlier.

The four time, two weight world champion has since suffered personal turmoil, struggling to come to terms with the devastating defeat suffered at the hands of the ‘Pac Man’. Binge drinking, drug abuse and depression signalled a stint in rehab for the Hyde man, who then announced his retirement from boxing.

He has since changed his life around, coming back into boxing as a trainer and promoter to a stable of up and coming British talents, including Martin Murray, Scott Quigg and Richard Towers. Recent holiday snaps and training pictures however fuelled speculation that the Hitman would once again be lacing up the gloves, but after months of speculation, no word came from the Hatton camp – until earlier this week, when the rumours gathered pace.

And finally today, Hatton announced his long awaited return to the squared circle today alongside Hatton Promotions Director of Boxing Richard Poxon, and friend turned trainer Bob Shannon. Fans up and down the country have since rushed to purchase tickets for Hatton’s comeback, which will take place at the Manchester Arena, the Hitman’s old stomping ground, venue for many famous Hatton nights, including the most famous of them all, Hatton’s 11 round demolition of Kostya Tszyu in 2005. 7 years on, Hatton’s legion of fans will be hoping that November 24th is just as famous.

When the rumours first came to light, I have to admit that I was personally dead against a Ricky Hatton comeback. As I’ve said before, Ricky is my boxing hero, he’s the first fighter I ever truly got behind. Although I never got the chance to see him fight live (I have now though, and I can’t wait) watching his fights on the T.V, I can safely say I’ve never been as excited and nervous at the same time for any other event. I can’t tell you how nervous I was prior to the Floyd Mayweather fight in 2007, and how devastated I was to see Ricky knocked out. I’ve since become a fan of Mayweather, but at the time, there was nobody I hated more.

He’s always had a legion of fans. He took 35 thousand to Vegas for the Mayweather fight, when the venues he fought in held less than half of that capacity. He sold out arenas up and down the country within days, even now over 10 thousand tickets have already been sold for his comeback. There is no question at all that Ricky is the most popular British fighter of all time.

So when the comeback was first mentioned, I don’t think I’m the only one who didn’t want to see Ricky back in the ring. He looked completely shot against Pacquiao, and 3 years later, he can’t surely come back any better physically. Some are still against it, and deep down, I still have my doubts. At the end of the day, no one wants to see Ricky tarnish his legacy, come back and get hurt or worse. I think that’s tribute to the man himself, that so many people care about his health and wellbeing. But who are we to question him?

After listening to Ricky talk today, I have to say that he’s changed my mind about his comeback. I’m so excited for it, but I’m more confident now too. Hatton sounds as hungry as he’s ever been, he looks in great shape considering that he still has a couple of months before fight night, and the passion he spoke with today told me that his motivations for coming back are genuine, and not for personal gain.

Ricky spoke a lot about redemption today, and that says it all. He said he wants to make up for the Pacquiao defeat and his struggles since, he wants to exercise the demons he’s had since retiring and he wants to prove a point. Yes he’ll probably make a lot of money, yes he’ll help secure dates for his fighters, but I honestly believe he wants to come back to send out a message to all the doubters, and I’m fully behind him, as are many others.

It’s important to mention that in Mayweather and a prime Manny Pacquiao, Ricky lost to the best two fighters of the past 10 years, and in Mayweather, probably one of the best ever. As he points out himself, after his victory over Paulie Malignaggi in November 2008, pundits were saying Ricky was the best he’d been since Kostya Tszyu. Yet 6 months later, they were saying he was shot and way past it. Maybe after a 3 year lay off, the Hitman will comeback better than ever.

The only question that remains is, who will his comeback fight be against, and what happens after? Ricky has said he wants to come back and fight for world titles, and will be facing a world ranked opponent next to put him into that position. There have been plenty of names mentioned, and at this stage, I can’t be certain who he will face. I would say a fight with Marcos Maidana may be on the radar, maybe even Vyacheslav Senchenko, the former WBA welterweight champion, who lost his title to Paulie Malignaggi last time out.

I think Malignaggi is the ultimate goal too. Ricky became the first man to stop Malignaggi back in 2008, and I think his title could be the one he goes for. Malignaggi isn’t the biggest puncher, and can be out boxed, so that’s a fight we’re likely to see in my opinion.

After that, who knows? Fights against Kell Brook and Amir Khan have been mentioned, and again, they’re a big possibility. A fight with Khan has been mentioned in the past, and I would love to see it happen. It would sell out Wembley Stadium and would be a massive domestic showdown. I know who I’d be rooting for.

But as Ricky has said himself, it’s important not to get carried away. He could make his comeback and realise he hasn’t got it anymore, and decide to retire again. Maybe that wouldn’t be the worst thing, because as I’ve said before, I’d hate to see Ricky get hurt. But, Ricky of all people deserves a second chance, and I would love to see the Hitman become a world champion once again, earning redemption in the process. What a comeback that would be.

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