Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton is set to come back to the boxing ring on 24th November at the Manchester arena – having not fought since May 2009.
The former two-weight world champion looked to be back to fighting fit condition as he announced in a press conference today that he will once again lace up the gloves – ending perennial speculation that he would one day return to the sport which made him a household name.
Hatton spoke of how this endeavor is “more than a comeback” and insisted his “life turned to mush” due to the manner of his defeat to Manny Pacquiao in May 2009 – in which Hatton was knocked out within two rounds. Yet seeing Ricky announcing his comeback to the boxing game sparked a flow of nostalgia.
Hatton had carved out a legendary status among British fight fans due to his all-out aggressive style for which he was greatly extolled. Such an approach made for fan-friendly contests and helped Hatton rack up a superb record of 43-0 in the peak of his career prior to losing to Floyd Mayweather in December 2007. Before facing Mayweather, Hatton captured the less-prestigious WBU light-welterweight crown before beating hall of famer Kostya Tszyu for the IBF light-welterweight crown in front of his home fans in Manchester in 2005. That was undoubtedly the Hitman’s best night and it propelled him into the boxing big time.
But just as Hatton is well-known for his ring performances he is equally infamous for indulging in a detrimental lifestyle between fights. Hatton has been known to shoot up in weight between fights on a diet of Guiness and junk food. Yet such weight gains would only ever last a few months, as the Hitman would work it all off again in pre-fight training camps. But after his last fight against Manny Pacquiao in May 2009, Mancunian’s figure remained as rotund as ever for a period of three years – hence some doubted a comeback was at all possible.
Furthermore, many have pointed to the diet issue as the key reason behind his inability to sit atop the pound-for-pound world rankings. He was outboxed by Floyd Mayweather in 2007 and brutally pole-axed at the hands of Pacquiao. Such results helped breed the notion that Ricky Hatton, MBE, had seen his unhealthy lifestyle catch up with him. Consequently, as he lay still on the canvas in Las Vegas on 2nd May 2009, I myself felt that this was the end of Ricky Hatton’s boxing career.
However Ricky has always left clues that have pointed towards a comeback. His belated retirement announcement – coming on 7th July 2011 – made evident his anguish at saying goodbye to the sport straight after his loss to Pacquiao. Indeed he claimed in today’s press conference that retiring was something he never wished to do. Additionally, Hatton’s switch to promotion served as proof that he couldn’t stand having no involvement in the sport. Yet today he claimed such a role “didn’t fill the void” and picking up his training license only inflated his desire to return to fighting.
And so here we are today, hearing that the most exciting and well-supported British boxer of recent times is back. But after building a legacy that most can only dream of, is it worth risking past achievements for one last shot at the big time? There are fond memories held by all British fight fans when the name Ricky Hatton is muttered. Despite two crushing defeats in what were career defining fights, Hatton still is seen as the supremely entertaining and charismatic people’s champion. However the likelihood of this comeback ending in tears seems high, as the former world champion insisted today that he’d want to go straight back into the level he left the sport at. Should we witness a crushing defeat of Ricky Hatton on 24th November in Manchester, he would be lucky to be remembered for all things previously accomplished.
On the contrary, boxing is a business based on entertainment. Nothing excites the fans like a good story to accompany a fighter. In this case, the return of a ring legend is the narrative which is sure to have tickets being snapped up rapidly. On that note, I have to support this proposed return. Indeed, everyone involved in, or a fan of, the sport should feel the same. This is because the Hatton comeback is deeply intrenched in what this sport is all about. Despite the controversy surrounding the 34 year old’s announcement, it is indeed such controversy and the accompanying risks that will have us glued to our televisions come November. Hatton’s comeback may well have the look of a certain disaster, but that is exactly what will make this event unmissable.