"I'm so sorry," classy everyman Hatton told the fans after his comeback loss.
Ricky Hatton fell off a mental and emotional cliff after he left boxing following a 2009 loss to Manny Pacquiao, and portrayed his comeback to the sweet science as a victory, even before he stepped into the ring with Vyacheslav Senchenko.
He looked pretty solid early on, better than you might have expected, considering how he beat up his body in the last few years, but his stamina lagged some, and the Hitman was felled by a left hook to the body, in round nine, at the Manchester Arena, in Manchester, England.
The crowd didn't love him any less, cheering the despondent hitter, who got teary after he got up.
Hatton was up 78-74, 77-76, 77-76 at the time of the stop. He said after he thought he was up four rounds or so on the cards. He said he felt some rust, and said he wouldn't make any decisions about continuing on. "I'm absolutely heartbroken," he said. "I'm gutted," he repeated.
He was asked if he in retrospect might have taken an easier comeback foe. "How long have you known me?" he said. He said he thought he did well, considering Senchenko had only lost once. He agreed that his fitness was good, and started tearing up when talking about getting dropped and stopped again. He said he will contemplate whether he should go on. I'm guessing we see him in a ring again, against a lesser-level boxer. If he'd gotten stopped by a head shot, maybe not, but since there was plenty to like about the performance, at least from my perch, I see Hatton getting back on the horse. (Update: Hatton retired, officially, at the post-fighter presser. I still say he reconsiders in the next few months.)
Hatton after losing to Manny in May 2009 went into a tailspin depression, and wanted to off himself, admitting that he'd go out and contemplate drinking till he died. He said, "I didn't care whether I lived or died," and said having a baby girl, Millie, age 1, has helped put it all in perspective. Just getting back from the brink was a massive accomplishment, for certain, and all have to hope that if he doesn't fight again, this time, he will better be able to negotiate the transition from active fighter to civilian.
Primetown showed the event in the UK, and Showtime did in the US.
Hatton (34 year old; 45-2 entering; Manchester; four division world champion; Manchester City fan) was 146 1/2 pounds, while Senchenko (ex WBA welter champ; age 35; 32-1 entering; from the Ukraine; a Manchester United fan) was also 146 1/2 pounds at the Friday weigh in.
Hatton looked solid in the first, peppy and strong. He did jab some, and did well not to get too frenetic and crazed, try to make up for lost time. Hatton was in control, winging left hooks upstairs and down. The Brit did miss some, as the Ukrainian's head movement looked OK. He landed a clean right on Hatton which popped his head back in the third. Hatton was in command in the fourth, as he kept pressing forward, putting mitts on the Ukrainian, who didn't get his jab working as he'd have liked to. Through five, it was easy to see Hatton being up 5-0. Senchenko had a better sixth, as Ricky's timing was off. Rights landed on him, and he came out more fiery in the seventh. The left hook landed on Hatton as did the right counter, and we wondered if his stamina was now an issue. In the eighth, we saw a bit of swelling on Ricky's cheekbones, under his eyes. A left hook-right follow for Senchenko stood out. The judges could have given the last couple rounds to the invader. Ricky's head movement wasn't as frequent, or fast, at this juncture. In the ninth, they both tumbled to the mat, after rasslin. The left hook had the swelling on Hatton's right cheekbone more pronounced. A left hook then downed Hatton, and he was on his back. It was cracker of a left hook to the body and he couldn't beat the count.
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