Heartbreak for 'the Hitman'?

  • By: Derek Bilton
  • Last Updated: November 23 2012, 8:27 GMT

Ricky Hatton: Tough assignment on comeback
Ricky Hatton: Tough assignment on comeback

2pts Senchenko to beat Hatton at 7/2 (Bet Victor).

4pts Quigg to beat Munroe by decision or technical decision at evens (Ladbrokes, Stan James).

On Saturday night, in front of an insanely partisan crowd at the Manchester Arena, Ricky Hatton will legally hit a man in the face for the first time since May 2009.

On that night Hatton was smashed to defeat by Manny Pacquiao in two shocking rounds as his career reached its nadir at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Ricky took a further two years to officially call it a day, but those who witnessed his weight balloon and read those lurid tabloid headlines about drug-taking and binge drinking will have been confident we had definitely seen the last of 'The Hitman' in a professional prize ring.

Not a bit of it.

Hatton, it seems, is on a mission and after whipping himself into fine shape will try to recreate the glory years again, starting this weekend when he meets Vyacheslav Senchenko over 10 rounds in Manchester.

The 'Sold Out' signs went up a long time ago and it promises to be an emotional night in the North West, where Hatton remains a ticket seller nonpareil.

However the question on everyone's lips is just what has Hatton got left? Can he scale the heights he once did? Challenge and win world honours against the best names in the division?

Saturday will tell us plenty. For Senchenko is no pushover. The Ukraine battler has lost just once in 33 fights (21 early wins) and as recently as last year held the WBA welterweight title.

He lost that belt to Paulie Malignaggi, who ironically is the last fighter Hatton beat as a pro way back in 2008. Senchenko is 35 and may be a boxer on the slide. However he has at least been active and fighting in good company for a few years now.

I was shocked to see initial win quotes of 1/4 about Hatton. The layers are clearly anticipating the old Ricky Hatton to turn up on Saturday. However what happens if an old Ricky Hatton dips between the ropes? He will have been out of the ring for well over 1,000 days and by his own admission Hatton has not been living a spartan life for much of that time. The years of crash dieting could catch up with him and it will be interesting to see how quickly he sheds the ring rust.

At his best Hatton was a human buzz-saw. A relentless pressure fighter who used educated pressure and a swarming body attack to overwhelm opponents.

However nobody, perhaps not even the fighter himself, will know what he has left in those legs and in his heart.

When he was on the way up and hungry he was poor and things were less complicated. However he has been a millionaire for several years now and as Marvellous Marvin Hagler once famously mused: "It's hard to get up and do roadwork when you are wearing silk pyjamas."

Hatton has talked about redemption and he has done well to get the weight off and organise himself sufficiently to prepare for an assignment such as this.

However I have a feeling Senchenko will see this as his chance to gatecrash the big time and at the prices I fancy he is a bet at 7/2.

On the undercard the fight that could steal the show is the return between Scott Quigg and Rendall Munroe. The pair collided, quite literally, back in June and that bout was waved off in a wholly unsatisfactory fashion with Munroe suffering a quite shocking cut over his eye.

It went down as technical draw so the pair do battle again this weekend to see just who is top banana in the super-bantamweight division on these shores.

Munroe is a class act. A savvy, crafty fighter who always prepares well and who has earned every pound note he has made from this brutal business. He has boxed for a world title but lost a brave WBC title tilt against the gifted Toshiaki Nishioka in 2010.

A former British, European and Commonwealth champion, Munroe is confident he has the skills and the desire to turn back the challenge of Quigg, a 24-year-old from Bury with a big reputation.

Quigg has won 24 fights (against that one no contest) since turning over in 2007. He is a fine pressure fighter with a great attitude and, like Hatton, is another pale-skinned warrior who loves to dig to the body.

Quigg is confident he has the tools to beat Munroe, and I am inclined to agree. The younger man by eight years, he will be well supported on the night and I see him negating a few hellish moments to stamp his class on proceedings and punch out a clear win on the cards.

  • Preview posted at 1950 GMT on 22/11/2012.