Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ricky Hatton should have quit long ago...

The end of another road for Hatton as Senchenko brings him to his knees in the ninth.

Like many other fighters of his generation, Ricky Hatton should have realised his time in the ring was over – but instead the Manchester boxer met with the blue canvas once more.

After a 48-fight career, the Hitman had become a recognisable household name, reaching the highs and falling to desperate lows, both in and out of the ring.

But when Hatton stepped back into the harsh world of boxing, following a comeback from retirement to fight Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko, he did so with almost every critic doubting his ability, and rightly so.

The 34-year-old may have relished in the roars from his adoring fans as the bout began last Saturday at the Manchester Arena, but even the most diehard of Hatton fans instinctively questioned whether the boxer could rise again.

The only man inside the 20,000-strong packed venue who did believe he could reinvent his youth was the one who wore the blue shorts, etched with Manchester City’s emblem inside the ring – Richard John Hatton.

The Hyde-born boxer had already reached the top of his sport from his rise to fame back in 2005, when the heavy underdog battled to victory to become the IBF Light Welterweight Champion against Kostya Tszyu.

Fast forward two years and four more titles and the Hitman found himself in the Welterweight division preparing for a trip to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas - facing none other than American champion Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

Although the fight ended in defeat Hatton had made it, before the fight he was an undefeated champion and already one of a kind in British boxing. Thousands of fans travelled to Las Vegas to cheer on the man from Manchester and millions more tuned in via TV from home, this for Hatton was as good as it would get.

However, his defeat to Filipino southpaw Manny Pacquiao in 2009 marked the beginning of the end as depression and alcohol use took control of his life. Boxing had taken its toll on Hatton’s private life and he was right to forget the sport, looking back with pride.

By 2011, Hatton had got things back on track and began work as a boxing promoter, managing a host of promising young fighters. This is where he should have drawn the line. At the age of 34 and with his place fully cemented in the sport’s history, there was nothing more to prove for Ricky.

But like many other ageing fighters, the man who grew up on a Greater Manchester council estate wanted one last shot in ring; he felt he still had demons to put to bed.

He couldn't have been more wrong, it was time to call it a day.

Hatton’s last hurrah was finished brutally - with a powerful body shot from Senchenko that left the Briton wincing on his knees during a ninth-round count out. How many people were winking and nudging the person next to them saying ‘I told you so’?

Ironically, the fighter’s new understudy, youngster Scott Quigg, was on the undercard the same night and became the WBA interim champion with a first knockdown on 32-year-old Rendall Munroe. And the final blow? A body shot.

Champions, such as 35-year-old IBF super-middleweight champion Carl Froch, have proven that if the talent and desire is there then age is just a number. But for a man who has fought much of his career under the media glare like Hatton, it was hard to know when to hang up the gloves and shackle those cravings to do the impossible.

Munroe, the former European and Commonwealth champion, was wise to announce he may retire after the defeat by Quigg.

It is hard not to think that this is something Hatton should have done, a very long time ago.

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