Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton has been the center of a hot debate over the past fortnight with rumors circulating that the popular Mancunian is preparing a sensational comeback to the ring. The Hitman has not competed since a devastating second round knockout defeat to Manny Pacquiao in 2009. The problems Hatton had leading up to that fight, and immediately after it, included rehab treatment for cocaine abuse, a huge increase in weight, and reports of bar fights. It appeared as if there was no way back for the overweight Hitman, who racked up an impressive record of 45-2 in a 47-fight career (to date), with the two defeats coming at the hands of the two best fighters in the world in Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. However, it appears that there may be some substance in the rumors after all….
Rumors in boxing are a very common thing, with everybody seemingly to have the correct report and opinion. The majority of the time, these “inside sources” and “rumors” are often totally way off the mark or revealed to spark a bit of controversy. However, this story seems to have substance, most notably due to the behavior of the Hitman himself. When I first heard the rumor, I was like the rest of the boxing world and reluctant to believe it for a number of reasons, but it has been reported that Golden Boy Promotions chiefs Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya paid Ricky Hatton a visit, attempting to persuade the Hitman to come out of retirement. Since then, we have seen evidence from Ricky himself that he is working hard on getting in shape. Could it happen? After speaking to a couple of sources relatively close to the Hatton camp, it is all beginning to make sense now. Here is my take on the possible Ricky Hatton comeback.
RICKY HATTON’S MOTIVE
In this day and age, money is always a factor that is considered in any decision it appears, but I would not say this is the main reason for Ricky himself. Ricky Hatton is and always has been a big name in Britain with a huge following, evident when he traveled to Vegas to take on Floyd Mayweather with an army of fans making the journey to support their man, so it is without question Ricky Hatton attracts interest, which therefore generates money. Golden Boy Promotions could benefit greatly from this if the promotion for Hatton’s return is done correctly, because it will no doubt be big news whoever he fights, although a careful matchmaking process will no doubt be needed to ensure that the exposure of Hatton’s return can be maximized to it’s full potential rather than throwing him in with a guy that would take him out and end all the hype.
A Fighter’s Life and pride
How many times do we see fighters walk away from the sport, only to return a number of years later. It seems to be a burden that fighters carry when they do not know when to get out and stay out. Obviously it has proven successful for a number of fighters in the past, but it has also proven catastrophic for others. When growing up in boxing, living, eating and breathing boxing for so long, wit all the blood, sweat, tears and hard work in dedicating your life to the sport, it is understandable to see why so many boxers struggle to cope with life after boxing. This could definitely be a factor in Ricky’s return, as we’ve seen the problems he encountered towards the end of his career and immediately after his career had finished. It appears that Ricky has resurrected his life now, with the work he is doing with Hatton Promotions and the work he is putting in as a boxing trainer. Ricky comes from a proud family, and to see a great career come to an end in those circumstances would not do his career justice. It will prove no consolation that his two defeats came against the two best fighters on the planet.
Avenge past defeats
This, in my opinion, is a very, very long shot in terms of reality, but anything can happen in boxing. The manor in which Ricky was beaten in both fights against Mayweather and then Pacquiao was quite resounding. Ricky has stated before that he was not in the right frame of mind for the Pacquiao fight, with a number of problems including training camp problems, but even so the defeat was devastating. Whilst this is a long shot, I would say IF anything did develop in this area, the Floyd Mayweather fight would be more realistic than Manny Pacquiao for a number of reasons. Primarily because if Hatton signs with Golden Boy Promotions then fighting Top Rank’s Manny Pacquiao would be out of the question unless of course the Pacman does indeed decide to leave Top Rank after his contract is up, but even so I would say there is a very little chance.
Mayweather on the other hand could be an option, a long shot but an option. Before you laugh hear me out; The Golden Boy link would be there for both fighters, the fact that the fight would generate a lot of interest, if not in the US but in the UK where Mayweather has often stated his desire to fight. It had been often anticipated that if Mayweather fought in the UK it would be against Amir Khan who was being prepared by Golden Boy to be the man to hand Mayweather his first defeat, but with the slump in Khan’s career as of late, the appeal of that fight does not appear to be there. Whether Ricky Hatton will still have the following he had before remains to be seen but I would anticipate he would, however I would not expect this to be Hatton’s first, or even second step back into the ring, maybe his third fight back if he stick around that long. Interesting option, and could prove to be good business even if it seems a long shot with only one winner, but who better for Mayweather to face in the UK than Ricky Hatton?
I am firmly of the belief that the fighter’s life and pride would have played a part in Hatton’s decision to return, but I would put this reason up there near the top. Quite recently Hatton Promotions had it’s deal with Sky Sports ripped up preventing Hatton from showcasing his stable of fighters on Sky Sports. Ricky seemed very frustrated and angered by this after the years of service he gave to Sky whilst he was an active professional fighter. Currently Hatton Promotions do not have a place to call home in terms of a TV contract, which will be a worrying sign as the Hatton camp have put a lot of hard work in to developing Hatton Promotions. My take on it is that if Ricky Hatton comes back and signs with Golden Boy Promotions, his own promotional company Hatton Promotions will co promote the fights which will boost his draw as a boxing promoter, and go a long way to obtaining a TV contract for his promotional company. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds as there are some talented fighters in the Hatton Promotions stable.
Three years out of the ring is a long time by anyone’s standards, never mind a guy who traditionally gains a huge amount of weight, and has undergone rehab for personal problems. Without question this will be a risk and there will be a divide in opinion from people across the boxing globe, but I anticipate a careful match making process upon Hatton’s return. But what realistic options does The Hitman have for his first appearance back?
There is a long time family fued between Witter and the Hatton’s with the fight almost being made a few years ago with Witter being cast aside because of a poor performance which effected his chances of a Hatton showdown. Since then Witter has been persistent in trying to get a clash with Ricky and quite recently turning his attention to younger brother Matthew. Despite Ricky being retired Witter still has harsh words for the Hitman and whilst the 38 year old Witter is past his best this could be a good option for Hatton to return in an all British showdown which will no doubt be fiery with the Lancashire and Yorkshire rivalry coming to the fore again. Whilst this will not be huge news across the pond in the US it will test the Hitman to see what level he is really at, with the weight not really being an issue with Witter operating at 147 and Hatton reportedly walking around at 155lbs.
Personally I would not anticipate Brook being Hatton’s first point of call as it appears Brook has other business to attend to in his quest to gain a world title. There is a bit of needle between the two it appears after Brooks comfortable victory over Matthew Hatton where he appeared to anger Ricky at ringside during the bout with a cheeky wink and smile during the fight. This could be a bout that could possibly happen in the future but I would not anticipate this being Hatton’s next business at hand as it would be a risk for both men. Brook would not want a defeat against a guy who just come off a 3 year lay off and Hatton would not want a defeat in his first match back. Maybe in the future but not now.
Another attractive proposition especially in the UK but once again I would not anticipate this being the target for both of these men in the immediate future. Khan has expressed his concern at Ricky’s return and declared his respect and friendship with the Hitman. Without question this would interest a lot of people if it did happen but it appears Khan is in a transitional period in his career after suffering back to back defeats most recently to Danny Garcia so I would not expect to see him in there with Ricky Hatton just yet. Obviously the Golden Boy link could have some part to play in determining whether this fight gets made at all, but this would benefit neither man at all because a defeat for either man would be devastating, especially Khan.
This is the most likely option with the public comments made by Malinaggi who seems to be adding intrigue to it by claiming he will not disclose anything but an announcement to be made soon. The two obviously have history with Hatton stopping Malinaggi in the 11th round convincingly back in 2008. With Malinaggi capturing the WBA welterweight title from Senchenko earlier this year this would appeal most to Hatton for a comeback fight. Clearly this is a fight he can win, and in my opinion quite easily, despite a 3 year lay off and Malinaggi off the back of a fantastic win, but lets be fair, Senchenko is not in the same league as Ricky Hatton even with a three year lay off. To come back and capture a world title in his first fight would be an amazing accomplishment and will surely open doors to better options, Kell Brook, Amir Khan being two attractive options if Hatton possessed that world title with both men’s desire to capture welterweight world titles. If I was a betting man, which I am my money is going on Malinaggi vs Hatton.
Here are a few comments regarding Ricky Hatton’s possible comeback:
Carl Froch on Ringside
“You don’t want to retire and go out like that. We know he likes to drink. He eats well. He goes up in weight between fights. I think if he goes back in the gym and stars working hard. he’ll realize that the fights not there and physically. He’s not officially come out of retirement and I don’t think he should.”
Joe Calzaghe on Ringside
“I hope not. I wouldn’t want to see him [Hatton] fight again, but it was easy for me because I was undefeated. I know it’s difficult because he got knocked out by Manny Pacquiao. That’s a difficult and hard thing to accept for your last ever fight. Maybe it’s burning to comeback and have one last fight.”
Amir Khan speaking to MEN Media
“Maybe it’s in the back of his mind after that loss to Manny Pacquiao. You could never leave the sport with a loss like that. What’s the reason he’s doing it? I don’t know – boredom maybe, but losing all that weight and coming back is going to be tough. He won’t know how hard it is for him until he does come back.”
“Boxing is the toughest sport in the world. It is not easy. No one can tell you to quit. Even your family can’t tell you to stop,”
Floyd Mayweather Sr on a fight with Malinaggi
“The fight most definitely would be different now, because a guy laying off this length of time, you don’t know, I don’t know, nobody knows what he’s been doing,” Floyd Sr told the examiner. “As you saw on TV, it showed him doing cocaine and who knows what else he’s been doing.”
He’s got to bring a lot of weight down and Ricky has quite a bit of weight to take off,” said Mayweather. “When Ricky comes back, Ricky will not be the same Ricky anyway. I can’t see anybody thinking he would whoop Paulie Malignaggi coming back. I don’t see it whatsoever.”
“I can’t never say what would happen in the future, but right now, I don’t have Ricky having a chance in h*ll,” said Floyd Sr.
Ricky Hatton has tweeted pictures recently and comments about training, take a look and make your own mind up:
Keep checking back for updates on this potentially huge story
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