Alan Dawson – London
Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Showtime
On May 2, 2009, Manny Pacquiao defeated Ricky Hatton with a stunning left hook knockout in the second round of a Las Vegas showdown. By the Mancunian’s own admission, Pacquiao beat him into retirement, depression, a battle against alcohol and drugs and even became suicidal having also lost contact with his parents. His comeback to the ring, Hatton said this week, was an attempt to exorcise personal demons but, against Vyacheslav Senchenko on November 24, The Hitman failed to relive his glory days as he suffered a gut-wrenching knockout defeat due to a ninth round shot to the body.
Official verdict: Senchenko by 9th Rd KO.
Manchester City fan Hatton (45-3-0, 32ko) may have lost 70-80lbs in order to gain his welterweight physique but the affable former two-weight world champion kept every single one of his fans as 20,000 supporters at the Manchester Arena erupted into a raucous hysteria when the melody and lyrics of “Blue Moon” filled the ground. Senchenko (33-1-0, 22ko) did himself well in playing up to the role of visiting villain as the once-defeated 147lber wore a Manchester United strip to the ring.
While Senchenko demonstrated an understanding and appreciation of a: the jab and b: the counter right, the main motif of the opening round was Hatton’s trademark focus to the body both with the jab, but mainly the left mitt to the gut. Hatton continued to pressure Vyacheslav in the second round, however, when it came to timing, the Englishman’s three-year absence from the professional circuit became apparent. He also walked into punches but his sheer activity… his bulldogged attitude, forthright behaviour and his relentlessness overcame Senchenko’s work.
In the third and fourth rounds, Senchenko began play-acting and taunted Hatton whenever Ricky landed. Any smirk, though, was wiped off of his face when Hatton punched hard to the midsection. Hatton’s frenetic pace slowed somewhat in the fourth and, because he kept his jabbing mitt so wayward, he was vulnerable to an overhand right. Senchenko, however, at this point in the fight was not the fighter who would capitalise on this and embark on a calculated offensive. Hatton, meanwhile, came into his own toward the end of the fourth, stealing the round in the process.
While Senchenko may have lost the fourth, he certainly won the fifth as the visiting pugilist took advantage of Hatton’s refusal to move his head by jabbing accurately. Hatton was also coming off second best when it came to the tactical battle and, by the bout’s midway point, Senchenko – who was bleeding from the cheek/eye – had found range and rhythm. That success was largely because the fast pace Hatton fought with at the start of the fight had depleted considerably, but not to the point where he was in danger. Hatton, 34, still felt he was a few punches away from closing the show and lunged with left hands.
Hatton, like Senchenko, was looking the part of a man in a fight. He was marked but not cut like Vyacheslav was. Senchenko, though, was having his say from a number of angles and regardless of whether the fight was boxed on the inside, or from distance. Senchenko came into his own as Hatton tired… perhaps a well constructed pre-fight gameplan. By the eighth round, Senchenko was boxing with authority and punishing Ricky with left hook/right straight combination punches.
While Hatton struck Senchenko with a couple notable shots in the ninth, Hatton’s comeback ended in distressing fashion as Senchenko powered a punch into Hatton’s body and The Hitman crumpled to his knees, unable to make the count, only rising to his feet one minute later, shedding tears in disappointment.
Ever popular, Hatton left the ring as he entered it. A hero in the minds of his fans who, despite defeat, continued to chant “There’s only one Ricky Hatton… one Ricky Hatton… walking along, singing along, walking in a Hatton wonderland”.
Following the official announcement of his defeat, Hatton told Primetime of his ‘heartbreak’: “I thought I was winning the fight, four rounds up. I caught him a couple of times. I put my body through hell [by] losing four and a half stone. I’m really heart-broken.
“I get my life back together but it’s just one shot. I’m heart-broken. He nailed me with a few early on. I think I was doing alright… he only lost his unbeaten record last time out but I’m just gutted. I wanted to fight for world titles and had to fight someone like that to get to world titles. I was enjoying it but I was finding it heavy weather. I’m a champion and I’m a fighter.”
Hatton, with severe purple bruising over his cheek, concluded by ambiguously commenting on his immediate future: “I’m going to have a proper think about things as that’s not the way my career should end.”