'Haunted' Hatton seeks redemption: Pacquiao KO drives comeback as Hitman confirms November return
21:57 GMT, 14 September 2012
If he walks like he talks then the second instalment of Ricky Hatton’s career might just prove more dramatic than the first. Then again, that is some 'if'.
To listen to the former two-weight world champion, to hear how memories of one brutal night pushed him to consider suicide, was to appreciate just how ‘torturous’ moments of the past three years have been since Manny Pacquiao left him unconscious and needing treatment in a Las Vegas ring.
That bout, in May 2009, was the catalyst to his not-so-revelatory announcement in Manchester that he was coming back as a welterweight on November 24 to take on ‘an international level fighter’ who has not yet been determined. ‘There are several names,’ he said. ‘I’ll be able to tell you who in a week or two.’
Ultimately, the enormously ambitious objective for a man three weeks from his 34th birthday is another world title. Hatton admitted he has already visualised domestic blockbusters with Amir Khan and Kell Brook, not to mention rematches with Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Pacquiao, the pound-for-pound kings of his generation who remain, to date, the only men to have beaten him.
Scroll down for video…
Back in the game: Ricky Hatton confirmed his return to the ring on Friday
Say cheese: Hatton announced his return in his hometown of Manchester
For their part, Khan’s representatives have already stated a willingness to make the fight.
But Hatton’s greater motivation, he says of an extraordinary decision that has drawn reactions from scepticism to ridicule, is not the titles; it’s the need for ‘a happy ending’ in a story that has seen him battle depression and issues with drugs and alcohol since he ‘blew’ his shot at Pacquiao.
‘It’s about redemption,’ Hatton said. ‘I have so many regrets about how it ended last time. Even if I lose, it’s better than sitting around wondering if I should come out of retirement, thinking about my regrets.’ Those regrets, and issues in his personal life, drove him to ‘literally consider suicide’. At one point it was a regular deliberation.
He talks of being ‘haunted’, partially by a fair belief that his 10-round defeat against Mayweather was poorly refereed, but mostly by recollections of how his preparation and fight against Pacquiao went so horribly wrong, culminating in a second-round knockout.
Put one on me! The Hitman will fight on November 24
Looking trim: Hatton has battled through drug and alcohol problems to be fit for the fight
‘Those are demons in your head, that
the two times I had the chance to be pound-for-pound No 1 in the world,
things got in the way,’ Hatton said. ‘That’ s haunted me for years.
‘With Pacquiao, it wasn’t just being
flattened in two, but it was knowing that I could have done something
about it. I was so overtrained (by Floyd Mayweather Snr, his trainer at
the time). Weeks earlier, before the fight, people were telling me to
take a week off. I had nothing left. I was even told I should pull out
of the fight. Super-featherweights were beating me up in sparring.’
He added: ‘I spent so long after the
fight on the couch at home crying about what went wrong. That stuff went
round my head non-stop, helped send me into that dark place. If you
could be in my head. Anyone who has had depression will know how hard it
is. I just couldn’t let go.’ Hatton attempted comebacks before but they
never stuck. This time, he explained, working as a promoter, then as a
trainer, helped rekindled his motivation. As it stands, he has lost
three stones and is now a muscular 11st 4lbs.
Fighting fit: Hatton says he is in the best shape he has ever been in 12 weeks before a fight
‘This is about redemption,’ Hatton
said. ‘I want people to say, “You know what, that Ricky Hatton, he boxed
in Vegas, he became two-weight world champion. His life turned to ****,
didn’t he blow it, but didn’t he come back well” That’s the story I
want. I want the world title but more than that I want to make people
Whether that is actually necessary seems to be beside the
point. What is in no doubt is the size of the task facing Hatton, who
claims he can be ‘better than ever’ despite all the anecdotal evidence
in boxing’s history that suggests otherwise.
A three-year break is long for any
fighter, not least one who would balloon three stone between fights and
who has always taken his share of punches. He was already showing signs
against Juan Lazcano in 2008 that his punch resistance was fading.
In that search for a title, it is
unlikely he could get anything out of Floyd Mayweather, the WBC
champion, and Timothy Bradley of the WBO is probably too good as well.
Paul Malignaggi, the WBA champion, is
better than he was in defeat against Hatton in 2008, but would pose
less of a threat to the Hitman’s health given how lightly he punches.
That would represent Hatton’s safest bet, though IBF holder Randall
Bailley would also tempt him.
It’s hard to see how Hatton would
beat any of those fighters at this point, but he is not lacking for
courage or confidence. As ever with Hatton, it will be fascinating to
see how it pans out.
Look back at the six fights that shaped Hatton's career with our picture and video special
Lights out: Hatton was hammered by Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in 2009
Knockout: Pacquiao knocked Hatton down with a devastating blow in Las Vegas
RICKY HATTON FACTFILE
1978 – October 6: Born in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
1996 – Captures bronze medal at the World Amateur Championships.
1997 – September 11: Makes professional debut under the guidance of trainer Billy Graham and knocks out Colin McAuley in the first round at Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes.
1999 – Claims first pro title with a second-round TKO win against Tommy Peacock for the vacant Central Area light-welterweight title.
2000 – October 21: Beats Jon Thaxton on points to win the British light-welterweight title.
2001 – March 26: Wins vacant 'fringe' WBU light-welterweight title with fourth-round stoppage of Tony Pep.
2002 – June 1: Suffers first knockdown of his career in opening round against Eamonn Magee, but battles back to win on points.
2005 – June 4: Shocks the world by beating Kostya Tszyu, considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, in Manchester, winning the IBF light-welterweight title.
November 26: Overcomes nasty cuts to beat Carlos Maussa and add WBA crown to his IBF title.
December 21: Becomes first British fighter to receive the prestigious Ring Magazine 'Fighter of the Year' award.
2006 – Moves up to welterweight division and labours to victory against Luis Collazo, claiming the WBA title.
December: Awarded MBE in New Year's Honours list.
2007 – January 20: Knocks out Jose Luis Castillo, retaining IBO belt and winning WBC international light-welterweight title, which was later vacated.
June: Hatton's team agree terms with the camp of Floyd Mayweather for a December 8 fight in Las Vegas.
December 8: Knocked out in the 10th round by Mayweather in the first defeat of his professional career.
2008 – May 24: Retains IBO light-welterweight title by securing a unanimous points verdict against Juan Lazcano in front of 55,000 supporters at Manchester City's Eastlands stadium.
July 29: Announces split from long-time trainer Billy Graham.
September 3: Announces he will be trained by Floyd Mayweather Snr for his November fight with Paulie Malignaggi.
November 22: Wins light-heavyweight bout with Malignaggi in Las Vegas after the American's corner retire him in the 11th round.
2009 – May 2: Hatton's reign as light-welterweight world champion comes to a brutal end as Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao delivers a stunning second-round knockout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
August 11: Hatton confirms an all-British fight against Amir Khan is “a possibility”.
2010 – January 13: Hatton announces he will return to the ring in 2010.
September 13: A spokesman for Hatton confirms the fighter has entered a rehabilitation facility due to 'severe depressio' and a drink problem'. The announcement follows News of the World allegations of cocaine use by Hatton.
September 23: The British Boxing Board of Control announce they have withdrawn Hatton's boxer's licence.
2011 – July 7: Announces his retirement from boxing, more than two years after his defeat to Pacquiao.
2012 – September 14: Confirms at a press conference that he is to return to the ring, with a November 24 bout at the Manchester Arena against an as yet unnamed opponent.
VIDEO: It's on! The Hitman is back…