Hatton reveals comeback opponent
Boxing: Ricky Hatton has confirmed his comeback fight on November 24 will be against Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko.
Hatton, who is coming out of retirement following a three-and-a-half-year exile from the ring, announced that 35-year-old Senchenko would be his first opponent in a welterweight clash at the Manchester Evening News Arena.
Largely unknown on British shores, Senchenko, like Hatton, is a former world welterweight champion, losing the belt in his last bout - his first career loss - to American Paulie Malignaggi.
That was his first defeat in his 33rd fight, losing to a man Hatton himself beat in his penultimate match-up before retirement. Hatton's next outing was his well-publicised hammering by Manny Pacquiao, a setback which sent him on a downward spiral that saw him encounter problems with alcohol and drugs.
After a lengthy absence from the ring he confirmed his retirement last year, only to announce two weeks ago that he was returning to the sport.
Hatton does not want an easy route back into the big time and believes his comeback fight against Senchenko will be no walk in the park.
The Donetsk-based puncher provides 33-year-old Hatton with a stern test.
But the sheer fact that Hatton dared to step into the ring with Pacquiao, regarded as the world's best, shows he has never been afraid of a challenge while in pursuit of titles, and the former two-weight champion believes he is walking a similar path on his return.
"I always said from the start I wanted to fight someone who was world-ranked and known," he said. "There were certain opponents mentioned, people like Michael Katsidis and people were excited about him coming, and people such as that, but I think this is a better opponent and I say that with the greatest respect.
"Who knows, they could be further down the line, but for my first fight back, to fight a former world champion, a world-ranked opponent, I think it speaks volumes for what I'm all about. I've never made things easy for myself, I never shirk the best. People said I might want to have an easy one to get my eye back in, but that's not me."
While fans may be disappointed that Hatton has not gone for a name such as Katsidis or, more ambitiously, a domestic rival such as Kell Brook or Amir Khan, the Manchester man is certain he has made the right choice.
Senchenko's April loss to Malignaggi in the Donbass Arena was his last time in the ring, and like Hatton, will have something to prove in nine weeks' time.
"He was a decorated amateur, a world champion, he lost his last fight against Paulie Malignaggi, he was stopped due to an injury," Hatton said. "The injury happened early on and he was later stopped due to it. That's the only blemish, he's going to want to come back stronger, I have been matched with him at his most dangerous, when he wants to bounce back, the same as me. I like to think fight fans will give me credit for who I have picked."
After his loss to Pacquiao, Hatton had well-publicised battles with drink, drugs and depression, having been unable to shake off the gloom of his bitter loss Pacquiao.
He was knocked down in both of the rounds that the fight lasted for, with his previously-confident aura shattered, but he insists he will not be thinking about that when he steps through the ropes again.
"I'm not feeling any nerves, the fight is still several weeks away and I'm just booming with excitement," he said.
"I assume when the fight comes I will feel differently but the nerves make you sharper. I am happy with the way my training camp is going. My trainer says I am looking good and rolling back the years, I don't expect anyone to believe me and I am looking forward to proving to people what I have got."