So long, Ricky Fat-ton! Returning Hitman vows to quit boozing between bouts
22:28 GMT, 22 October 2012
There will be no more boozing and bingeing between the boxing during Ricky Hatton’s comeback.
The Hitman makes that promise as he trains himself to the limit in readiness for his return to the ring three madcap years after being knocked cold by Manny Pacquiao.
Not only that but even if he loses to Vyacheslav Senchenko in Manchester on November 24 and retires again, he vows not to sink back into the debauchery which posed a greater threat to his life than any blows from even the mightiest of opponents.
Slim chance: Ricky Hatton insists he will not booze or binge between fights again
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'This comeback is about the way I want to be remembered,' says Hatton, 'but not only that. This is a permanent lifestyle change.
'I know that if I’m going to get all the way back to winning world titles I can’t blow up to 15 stones between fights and then train like crazy and crash diet to get the weight off. My body won’t take that any more.
'But I also know that the drink and everything else was killing me. The depression which followed not only that defeat by Pacquiao but all the bingeing took me to the brink of suicide. That won’t happen again. At 34 I’ve got my life under control.'
Hatton is doing that his way. Not by joining Alcoholics Anonymous, sacrificing every little pleasure and thereby driving his frustrated self to fall heavily off the wagon.
Contrary to reports that he never drinks now, he is monitoring his own behaviour.
He says: 'I've had about eight nights out in the last four months. Most of them have been for dinner with my girlfriend Jennifer.
'There’s been a couple of evenings with the lads but I've been able to enjoy those while having no more than a couple of beers. I've learned to exercise sensible restraint and that’s how it’s going to be from now on, whether I’m boxing or not.’
Hatton did take counselling when fighting the worst of his demons and says that he has psychologist 'on speed dial' in case he needs reinforcing in his new-found resolve.
The halo of health surrounding him speaks even more loudly than his words. On the May morning he woke up resolving to kick the excesses of drink, drugs and junk-food which were destroying him, Hatton weighed 14st 10lb.
Now, at 11st 3lb, he is down to within ten pounds of the welterweight limit at which he will fight Senchenko – with almost five weeks still to go before he steps back into the spotlight in front of 20,000 loyal fans at the sold-out MEN Arena.
Fat jibe: Hatton used to wear a fat suit to the ring (L) to mimic his nickname from his rivals, 'Ricky Fatton'
Taking off a couple of pounds a week is child’s play for someone who used to shed five stones during a seven-week training camp before his world title battles.
But just to make sure he does it right – and by way of another nod to a serious change in habits – the man who sometimes used to exist on gallons of lager and buckets of chips has employed a nutritionist.
He says: 'These days boxers have to get their diet and vitamins right and there'd be no point having this bloke and not doing what he tells me.'
As an archetypal one of the lads, can he be truly happy submitting to such a stern regime
'To tell you the truth, I’ve never felt better or happier in my life, physically or mentally,' he says.
'I’m fitter in body and mind than when I was winning my world titles.’
/10/22/article-2221383-1576F99A000005DC-340_634x443.jpg” width=”634″ height=”443″ alt=”Raring to go: Hatton is in training for his comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko ” class=”blkBorder” />
Raring to go: Hatton is in training for his comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko
'I feel sure that when I give this comeback a real honest go then even the Ricky Hatton haters will say fair enough.
'I don’t want to go out on my back as the chump who got knocked out by Pacquiao because he was making a wreck of his life.
'On November 24 I’m going to find out the truth of whether I've still got the fight in me. If it’s not there – and I’ll know it – I will walk away again. This time for good. But I’ll be doing so on my own terms and with pride. That’s why I’ve picked a tougher opponent than everyone in my team recommended.'
That rival is not well-known in Britain but Senchenko's surprising loss of his world welterweight title to Paulie Malignaggi in his last fight is the only defeat on his record.
Hatton beat Malignaggi immediately prior to his two defeats, against Floyd Mayweather and Pacquiao. A world title re-match with the native New Yorker has been pencilled in by Hatton for nest March, if all goes well next month.
An all-British block-buster against Amir Khan is also a possibility later next year and that fight would fill a football ground in Manchester, be it the home of his beloved City or the bigger house at Old Trafford.
Nor is Hatton ruling out return bouts with Mayweather and Pacquiao, complete with repeats of the trans-Atlantic migrations by tens of thousands of his army of fans from Manchester to Las Vegas.
But all those plans are on hold until the second coming tells him – and us – whether the Hitman still has the right stuff. Not that he is unduly worried by either the outcome of the fight with Senchenko or the critics questioning the wisdom of his comeback.
'Win, lose or draw in the ring, I’ve already won in my life,' he says.
For a man who not that long ago was close to slitting his own wrists, that is the most important victory of all.
Caffeine would not have passed the test in the ring
If Stevie G and the lads had been going out in Poland to box rather than play football for England, the levels of caffeine which the FA admit was pumped into their systems would almost certainly have resulted in failed drugs tests.
The disturbing revelation that caffeine is being dispensed to England’s players before matches came after their World Cup qualifier was postponed to the next day by rain and they had to be given sleeping pills to enable them to get a night's rest.
That admission throws into light an alarming difference between football's approach to doping compared with some other sports.
Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, says: 'Caffeine is a stimulant and we treat it as such if it shows up in quantities bigger than would come naturally from drinking a couple of cups of coffee.
'We are now testing boxers more and more rigorously before and after fights and at random out of competition. If a high level of caffeine is detected we regard it as a positive drugs test and deal with it accordingly. We do this for the safety of that fighter, as well any opponent, because caffeine increases heart rates significantly.'
Danny Garcia defeated veteran Mexican Erik Morales during their WBC and WBA super lightweight title bout
The use of Creatine and other supplements by footballers has also raised health concerns for young men at many leading clubs whose physiques have grown markedly more muscular and powerful in recent seasons.
Meanwhile, under Smith’s direction, British boxing is setting a worthy example. Several fighters have been suspended for using steroids and other substances. While some boxing commissions in the US are following suit, others are dragging their heels.
The IBF are shamefully allowing Lamont Peterson to carry on fighting even though he admitted having a pellet stuffed with synthetic steroids implanted in his hip before his highly controversial victory over Amir Khan.
Last Saturday, the New York authorities gave the go ahead for legendary Mexican veteran Erik Morales to fight on the card which brought boxing back to Brooklyn – despite failing steroids tests.
They did so on the dubious grounds that the amounts were small enough that they may have been ingested from contaminated meat.
Not that it did Morales much good. Danny Garcia knocked him out… further evidence that our footballers should be very wary of anything that is administered unto them.
Say it ain't so, Ho…
Alarmingly, Evander Holyfield has recanted on his promise to retire from the ring on his 50th birthday.
He reached that landmark last Friday only to decide to carry on boxing after all, no doubt to try to alleviate the financial distress which has followed his squandering of a $350million fortune.
He says: 'I woke up on Friday morning and decided not to quit after all, It now remains my ambition to keep boxing until I become, again, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.'
U-turn: Evander Holyfield has refused to retired despite turning 50 last Friday
Since all those titles are held by the Brothers Klitschko, who have stated they will not fight their hero Holyfield at his advanced age, that is a most improbable goal.
Still, he says: 'I know how to beat Wladimir and Vitali and all I am asking is for the chance to prove it.'
Of his U-turn he says: 'A person has the right to change his mind, don’t he'
Yes a person does. Just as those who are worried about his health have the right to send this all-time great this message: Say it ain't so, Ho.
Brook will have to step up in class now
Not least for his own good, it is unwise to get as carried away just yet about Kell Brook as the 7,000 home-town Sheffield fans who turned out for Saturday night’s stoppage of Hector Saldivia… even though this victory is supposed to set up a challenge to Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title.
Very few final eliminators for world championships feature two boxers who have fought hardly any opponent of real note on their way up the rankings.
The records of both Brook and Saldivia are riddled with fairly easy pickings
Alexander, whose own Saturday night victory over Randall Bailey won him the IBF title, is not the most formidable of champions but he does represent a step up in class and technique.
Since, as champion, he is certain to insist on home advantage in America, a glance at Saldivia’s record is in order. The Argentine had fought outside South America only once before. On that occasion in Las Vegas he was knocked out in the first round by Said Quali, a thirty-something Moroccan journeyman who had arrived in the US via Belgium.
Exciting times: After beating Hector Saldivia, Kell Brook and his promoter Eddie Hearn will be planning for bigger fights
Brook took three rounds to achieve the same result and the manner of it – by a straight-forward left jab – raised more questions about Saldivia’s commitment than it provided answers about the English contender’s power.
Brook's physique did look remarkably more muscular, growth attributed not just to his new nutritionist but his raised level of dedication to training.
If he is to challenge Alexander in the spring, he will need to maintain his healthier lifestyle through the intervening months.
Brook may well be a world champion in the making. But just in case there is any wavering in his devotions to the hard old game – or the match with Alexander cannot be made – his promoter Eddie Hearn is wisely continuing to call out Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton for possible big pay-days in 2013.