by Johnny Walker
Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton’s compelling comeback attempt fell short tonight in Manchester, England, as he was stopped by former welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko in the ninth round of a scheduled ten-round fight at the Manchester Arena.
Hatton (45-3, 32 KOs) looked strong in the early stages of the fight, frequently landing hard left hooks that marked up the Ukrainian’s face. Through the first four rounds, Hatton landed harder and more often, while Senchenko struggled to find his range with his major weapon, the left jab.
The fight turned in round five, as Senchenko began to ultilize his reach advantage with some hard left jabs that snapped Hatton’s head back. This pattern continued in the sixth round: the jab was now working well enough to allow Senchenko to start scoring with some hard right hands.
Hatton rallied in round seven and scored with a hard left hook that hurt Senchenko, who later in the round began bleeding from a facial cut. Both men’s faces, in fact, were showing the wear and tear of the action, with Hatton sporting a large bruise under his right eye.
Senchenko (33-1, 22 KOs) came back to take round eight, and then came the fateful round for Ricky Hatton.
Hatton had backed up the Ukrainian with a flurry of punches and appeared on his way to taking the round when the ex-champ scored with a nasty liver shot. Hatton crumpled to the canvas and though he tried, was unable to beat the count. The Brit hero then collapsed and Senchenko celebrated, the winner by TKO at 2:52 of round nine.
Ricky Hatton was leading on all judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage, by scores of 78-74 and 77-76 (twice). Boxing Insider scored it 77-75 for Hatton.
Hatton was distraught in an emotional post-fight interview, initially refusing to rule out fighting on.
“I thought I was four rounds up [but] there were clear signs of ring rust,” said the Hitman.
“For me first one back … I was winning. I don’t want to make any hasty decisions (about retirement). I think I was doing alright. I’m just gutted.”
Hatton also apologized to his fans for letting them down, though the fans, still chanting his name, obviously felt no apology was necessary.
“I’m so sorry,” Hatton said through his tears. “I’m not a quitter. Heartbreaking isn’t the word for it.”
Given Hatton’s performance, it seems that had he taken a couple of easier fights to rid himself of what he called “ring rust,” he may have held on to defeat the talented ex-champion from Ukraine. Paul Malignaggi’s stoppage of Senchenko looks even more impressive in the aftermath of this fight.
Sky Sports reports via Twitter that Hatton announced his retirement at the post-fight press conference, stating that he “doesn’t have it anymore.”
Hatton said his decision would have been the same even if he had beaten Senchenko, and that he can now retire content.
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