Hatton can take the Tyson track and head for a better future after comeback
00:01 GMT, 27 November 2012
The end for Ricky Hatton was eerily reminiscent of the evening one of his idols realised that the force was no longer with him.
It was seven years ago to the month that Mike Tyson sat on his stool and forfeited the victory which gave run-of-the-mill heavyweight Kevin McBride his one moment of totally unexpected fame.
As an event it was less violent than Hatton's collapse under a brutal blow to the liver in Manchester on Saturday night but the shock which reverberated around the world was far greater.
The end: Ricky Hatton's comeback ended in disappointment on Saturday night
Moving on: Hatton can hang up the gloves for good this time with his head held high
Gave it a go: Hattonwent at Vyacheslav Senchenko of Ukraine at the Manchester Arena
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The outcome was the same – a comeback ended more abruptly than any of us could have imagined.
Both Hatton and Tyson had been out of action for more than three years. Tyson spent most of that time in prison, Hatton in wild and self-destructive excesses.
Tyson, one of the great boxers of the modern era, retrieved from his jail cell enough of his physical strength and aura of menace to regain the world heavyweight title.
Hatton, a fighter of the people and for the people, was too damaged by the freedom of his lifestyle to return for more than a single fight.
Yet both men have come through these toils clinging to a better future.
One difference is that where it took Tyson years after that surrender to build a new life, Hatton has done it while in the course of preparing for his one-night comeback.
Yet the hour of truth was the same for both men.
Tyson came before those of us who had chronicled his extraordinary career to say this about his capacity for almost decapitating opponents: 'I just can't do this any longer.'
Hatton told we who he had taken on a thrilling ride: 'It's not there any more.'
That said, Tyson walked out into the cold, dark, rain-soaked streets of a Washington night in November 2005, never to throw a punch in anger again. Hatton did the same in Manchester shortly after midnight on Saturday.
They say they never come back. But they do. And who is to say they shouldn't try.
Both the Hitman and the Iron Man have been improved by this harrowing experience.
Long may they remain so.
The end for Iron Mike: Tyson lost to Kevin McBride in Washington
It's certainly not cricket, Freddie
The up-coming weekend is heavy in more ways than one for boxing.
Two Brits aiming for world title shots next year – David Price and Tyson Fury – should move another rung up that ladder without undue discomfort.
It is less certain what will happen when a former Ashes winning cricketer – Freddie Flintoff – steps into the prize-ring for the first time.
Neither Price nor Fury are likely to be derailed by Matt Skelton or Kevin Johnson, respectively.
Skelton, who is a toned advertisement for fitness fanaticism despite being well into into his 40s, will do his best to rough up Price for as long as he can evade the giant Liverpudlian's sledgehammer right hand at Aintree on Friday night.
Change of scene: Andrew Flintoff (right, with British champion David Price) laces up the gloves on Friday
Johnson, who most of us on this side of the Atlantic thought had retired, will bring his American wiles and professional pride to Belfast on Saturday night and make it as awkward as possible for Fury to land his knockout bazooka.
Neither fight is likely to go the distance and the odds are that Fury will precede Price into world championship challenges to a Klitschko next year.
Predicting the consequences of Flintoff entering the MEN Arena on Friday evening is more problematic.
Whatever Freddie thinks boxing for real may be like, one thing is for sure – it isn't cricket.
There are dangers inherent in facing up to fast bowlers but the object of the game is not to hit the opponent in the head.
Flintoff is not the first successful British sportsman to fancy his chances in the ring.
Olympic rower James Cracknell, for one, ventured into one heavyweight fight which lasted less than a minute.
There is a difference with Flintoff. He has been taken under the wing of Barry McGuigan, who is not only one of our legendary world champions but also one of the most intelligent icons in the hard old game.
Bring it on: Flintoff has been training under the guidance of Barry McGuigan and his son Shane (pictured)
McGuigan and his fitness trainer son Shane have pared 50lbs of Flintoff's post-cricketing flab, kept him off the booze and promise they are bringing him to this moment properly prepared.
In that, they have convinced the British Boxing Board of Control to issue Freddie with a license.
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Dream team: Flintoff with Barry (left) and Shane McGuigan
There is no denying that Flintoff has dedicated himself to the task and lived right during his training camp.
But although his hand-picked opponent is just a two-fight professional novice plucked out of the American back-woods, he will be at physical risk.
Reports from those who have seen him sparring are mixed, to say the least, and more than one established boxer has warned him to be shocked and rocked to his boots the first time he is caught by a blow from a heavyweight wearing the lighter fight gloves.
Flintoff himself says: 'I won't know what it will be like until the bell rings.'
Questions have been asked of the Board's decision to sanction this experiment. Although they have studied Flintoff in the gym and put him through stringent medical tests, they too will be hoping that nothing goes too painfully wrong.
It takes courage for any man – or woman these days – to climb through the ropes, notably so in this case given the memory of how worryingly long it took for Cracknell to be revived.
So it would be churlish not to wish our Freddie the best of luck, along with out Barry and our game.
Price-Skelton and Flintoff's debut will be live Friday night on BoxNation. Fury-Johnson will be live Saturday night on Channel 5.
Goodby brave Camacho
Hector Camacho was as brave as any man to have laced up the gloves and his senseless slaying is a cowardly violation of the fighting qualities he brought to the ring.
Yes, the Macho man had slipped into a cocaine habit towards the end of his career and there are suggestions of a drugs gang connection to his fatal shooting.
Even so, for this to happen in Puerto Rico, where he was a national hero, defies belief.
Boxing grieved with his family as they came to the heart-rending decision to allow his life-support machine to be switched off.
Sad ending: Hector 'Macho' Camacho was shot and killed in Puerto Rico
It is more years than he would have cared to remember since Camacho won world titles at three weights, lost to Oscar De La Hoya and then ended Sugar Ray Leonard's last comeback with a famous win in his last fight.
Yet just lately, aged 50, he was considering a comeback. If it had happened he would have thrown himself into it with all his old effervescence.
We would also have seen again that infectious smile, which made the shooting of Camacho in the face all the more obscene…..but for which we will remember him.