By Barbara Pinnella
This Saturday night, SHOWTIME will air the fight that will have Ricky Hatton (45-2, 32 KOs) making his return to the ring after a three-and-a-half year absence. This will also mark Hatton’s 10th appearance on SHOWTIME. Hatton will go up against Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-1, 21 KOs).
Hatton started off asking and answering the one big question.
“I’ll just keep it brief. I’m sure the main question is. ‘Why did you come back?’ I was always a very proud fighter. I was always able to beat fighters that were better technically than me, because I have such a big heart and such a big desire. So I was able to beat some fighters that were better than me. So you can image when I got destroyed in two rounds by Manny Pacquiao it was very hard for a man who has so much pride in himself – even though it was by someone like Manny Pacquiao.
“As soon as Manny beat me I went into depression and that lead to problems that were well-documented in the tabloids, with suicide attempts and nervous breakdowns and panic attacks. Not speaking to me parents for two years, to the day I’m still not speaking to me parents, which has been very, very hard. Losing my longtime trainer Billy Graham, tending to a court case.
“My life for the past three years has really turned to mush, as we say,” he continued. “So why I’m coming back to finish my boxing career not just because I got knocked out in two rounds by Manny Pacquiao, but I feel I’ve let a lot of people down in that period of time and I’m here to put a lot of ghosts and demons to rest.
“When people tell me to not be so hard on myself, that I got beat by the best and that I have nothing to prove, that means nothing to me. I felt like a failure, and I had to come back.
“But even if I get knocked out in the second round again I know I can look in the mirror and say, ‘Well, you needed to know and get rid of some demons, you got in shape, you go through all that, you picked a worthy opponent for your first one, you should be very, very proud of yourself.’ I think I’ve already won the toughest fight and I haven’t even thrown a punch – without a shadow of a doubt!”
Hatton admitted that nobody knows, not even him, how much rust there will be or how long it will take him to get back to where he was. He did say that he is performing unbelievably in the gym, and began sparring earlier than expected, but he would not be surprised if there was some ring rust in the fight.
Did he consider coming back against someone a bit less of a fighter than Senchenko? “I didn’t, no. I want to prove to you guys and to myself – there’s no point in talking about Malignaggi, Amir Khan or Timothy Bradley, and all those that I’m expected to beat.
“Malignaggi would be the easiest fight, but I wanted somebody at world level. And beating someone at world level opens up all kinds of doors for me. On November 25 we’ll know if I have a world title left in me.”
There were so many things going on with Ricky that have been well documented, but now he looks forward to the fight game again – the sparring, the running, the gym. And of course his weight is good as well.
Ricky made it clear that there would not be much change in his style. “I think I’m a little bit older and wiser, but you can’t change the devil inside. I’m aggressive by nature, that’s the way they bill me. I’m 34 years of age and when I look back with an older and wiser head on, I think ultimately my aggression and my over eagerness landed me in trouble against both Floyd and Manny.
“I’m not gonna change it, because I live by the sword and I’ll die by the sword, and I’ll never change that mentality. But I think I’ve gotta show a little bit of maturity and not go in there as careless. If you don’t learn by your mistakes you’re not as good as you think you are.
“It’s great to be back on SHOWTIME, I’m delighted for my first fight. I must admit I thought it would be a couple of fights before the interest would be shown. For my first comeback fight, for SHOWTIME to stream the fight makes me feel really proud.
“I was very humbled back home in England when my show, 20 thousand tickets, sold out in two days. It was incredible. And I’ve always had a following in the U.K., but to have a following here in the States makes me very proud. I don’t want the last thing that people remember about Ricky Hatton is that he got beat by Manny Pacquiao.”
Tune in to a special afternoon edition of SHOWTIME Championship Boxing this Saturday, Nov. 24 at 5:00 ET/PT, (delayed on the West Coast).