By: William Holmes
“There’s only one Ricky Hatton,
One Ricky Hatton,
Singing this song,
Walking in a Hatton wonderland.”
In the past decade, no fighter has had an entertaining group of fans as Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton. No matter where and who he fought, you could always expect to hear Hatton’s fans singing and cheering in the background to make it a raucous atmosphere.
Ricky Hatton and his legions of fans return to the world of professional boxing on Saturday night in Manchester, England, against former Welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko.
Ricky Hatton (45-2) vs. Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-1); Welterweight division
The last time we saw Ricky Hatton in the ring was over three years ago, when he was brutally knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in the second round and left helpless in a crumbled heap in the center of the ring.
It was one of the most memorable knockouts of Pacquiao’s career, so devastating that many thought Hatton would never return to boxing.
Hatton did retire for awhile and focused on his promotional company as well as on training up and coming fighters. His promotional company has been successful and has talented young fighters such as Scott Quigg fighting under its banner, but Hatton had a hard time walking away from the excitement of competing as a professional. He had a much publicized bout with alcohol and drugs, and it was obvious that he had gained significant weight since his fighting days.
But Hatton was able to stop the downward spiral and begin training again and losing the weight, and he regained that competitive fire.
He could have picked an easy opponent for his first fight back from retirement and it would have likely still sold a significant number of tickets, but Hatton instead decided to fight former welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko.
When Ricky Hatton fought he grinded you out and was the most successful when he attacked and focused on the body of his opponent. 32 of his victories have come by way of KO or TKO. He’s a big draw and has fought the best of the best.
He had two bad stoppage losses to Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. But he’s also defeated the likes of Paul Malignaggi, Jose Luis Castillo, Juan Urango, Luis Collazo, Carlos Maussa, and former Jr. Welterweight kingpin Kostya Tszyu.
Hatton, however, is 34-years-old and has not fought in over three years. He also only recently got himself back into shape. It is probable that Hatton lost a step or two since he last fought and that he no longer has the conditioning or ferocity that made him so feared.
His opponent Vyacheslav Senchenko is actually one year older than Hatton and has fought four times since Hatton’s last fight. Senchenko is the former WBA World Welterweight Title holder, winning it against an undefeated Yuriy Nuzhnenko in April of 2009.
Senchenko, however, had never fought anybody of note until he faced Malignaggi in April of this year and lost by TKO in the 9th round. It was considered an upset at the time, but if you look at Senchenko’s past record, it’s easy to see why he lost to Malignaggi. Not only did he lose to Malignaggi, he also lost to him on his native turf, the Ukraine.
Senchenko had never fought a legitimate contender prior to Malignaggi, and if Hatton is half the boxer he used to be, the Ukrainian will likely be in serious trouble on Saturday night.
But Senchenko has been more active than Hatton, and he’ll have a three-inch height advantage and a seven-inch reach advantage. Senchenko has decent KO power: 21 of his victories have come by way of KO or TKO.
But does Senchenko have enough talent to defeat Ricky Hatton in Hatton’s own backyard? Doubtful.
Hatton’s supporters will be out in droves and will be as loud as they have ever been before. Hatton was wise to pick Senchenko, a former champion who he would have easily beaten in his prime.
Hatton will beat Senchenko on Saturday even though he’s now past his prime, but it won’t be easy.