Bunce on Boxing: Ricky Hatton's comeback is not as crazy as some seen down the years

The refusal of Lewis and Calzaghe to fight again is often used as an insult

Nobody in the boxing business is ever shocked when a fighter announces a comeback and there have, trust me, been some idiotic returns over the years.

It is often a bigger shock when a fighter remains on the sidelines, remains retired and, dare I say it, appears to thrive within his inactivity. Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe both quit at the right time, but for some bizarre reason their refusal to be goaded into boxing again is often used as a subtle insult when their careers are discussed. It is crazy because staying retired with money and senses in place should be the objective for all active fighters.

When George Foreman, who quit boxing in 1977, walked from the pulpit of his church in Houston in 1987, to fight in rings in forgotten places against anonymous men, he was on a mission from the Lord. It gently changed from a quest to lose some weight and make enough money to fund some youth projects, to a seemingly impossible dream of winning back the world title.

Foreman first became world champion in 1973 and regained the championship, wearing the same shorts, in 1994 when he was 45 years of age. "I got to the point where I needed to be reminded about things that I forgot," claimed Foreman. "I had two careers, the early one is history and when I watch that fighter on tape I just shake my head."

Foreman returned, made his millions, won the belt and retired again; he was arguably even happier than the first time when his retirement, like his comeback, was preceded by an epiphany following a lacklustre defeat.

There are others that are forced into an early retirement and then, when they are released, begin the most improbable of comebacks after taking a whiff of freedom.

The Tony Ayala Jr tale is a true horror story of failure, violence and a waste of talent. In 1982, Ayala was unbeaten in 22 fights, with 19 knockouts, and he signed for a world title fight. He was also an addict and during a rage he raped a neighbour. He was sentenced to 17 years, served every single day and on release started to fight again. There was no ring redemption for the reformed Ayala and he had lost his edge and quickly vanished.

My favourite comeback involved Ron Lyle, another felon, who as a young man shot a rival gang member. He was released at 29 and a few years later lost to Muhammad Ali in a world title fight. Lyle kept on fighting before retiring in 1980. In 1995, when he was 54 he returned, knocked out four men, but then his body turned on him and he quit before a rematch with Foreman could be made. The pair would have shared a ring and 100 years on earth had the fight actually taken place.

On Saturday in Manchester, in front of a capacity and adoring crowd of nearly 19,000, Ricky Hatton fights again after more than three years away. Nobody, as I said, is surprised by Hatton's return, which unlike so many comebacks in the sport's violent history is not motivated by bankruptcy or a desire to recapture lost glory. Hatton is fighting again to get rid of the demons of defeat that stalk him; his motivation is refreshing, his honesty intact and his personal assessment of the return needs to be brutally frank.

Hatton is certainly not immune to the delights of making a nice few quid, which he will, and winning back a version of the world title, which he is still very capable of doing.

Thankfully, there is no delusion with Hatton's return, no fake hope or stupid claims that this version of Hatton is the best. The version that returns is never better, but the fighter can often be wiser and the fans and the opponents less demanding.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Belong: Volunteer Mentor for Offenders

This is a volunteer role with paid expenses : Belong: Seeking volunteers who c...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Apprentice Telesales & Marketing Opportunities

£10400 - £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests