Inevitable end for Ricky Hatton means this time it's for real

For 42 months the brave Mancunian wondered if he had been right to quit. Defeat has confirmed it

There can no longer be any denial left in the life and career of Ricky Hatton after Saturday's gallant final stand in a boxing ring at the Manchester Arena.

Less than an hour after the referee reached the count of 10, with Hatton on his hands and knees and retching for breath under the neon and spotlight of 19,000 silenced fans, the boxer finally quit the ring and this time it will be for real.

In 2009, when he last retired, Hatton was in denial over the outcome of the fight against Manny Pacquiao, claiming that he had trained too hard, sparred too many rounds and ran too long. This time, after a brilliant camp, he fell to sickening punches that undeniably ended whatever dreams he had been dreaming. The fall guy in the drama, and it was a rare drama, was a nice kid from Ukraine called Vyacheslav Senchenko; he played his role with daring, survived the fanatical crowd, a few rounds of vintage Hatton and then conducted the collapse with a chilling ease that fools had doubted he possessed.

The fight, the biggest in Britain for a very long time, had a simple plot and an inevitable endgame from about round four when Hatton first started to gulp in air like a climber at a dangerous altitude. There were moments, horrible to witness for the thousands that have followed and respected him for so long, from round six when it was simply unbearable to watch. I had written about the reality of comebacks in harsh terms on Saturday in this paper and Hatton was living out our worst fears: his head never moved, his face as static as his heavy legs and arms. He was talking to himself as Senchenko's punches started to hurt and if that is not a horror-show then what is? The end was a relief.

He initially left the ring after the ninth-round loss defiant that he still had something to offer, but once the doors closed on his dressing room and the gloves were off in more than one way, he emerged talking sense. He had looked, he bravely admitted, everywhere for excuses since the last fight and finally, at a fitting wake deep inside the Manchester Arena, his personal venue, he said that there were no excuses left. There was a faint execrable suggestion from one of his American promoters that big fights remained for Hatton. There are words to describe the type of men that would encourage a third comeback after that loss, but they seldom get printed in a newspaper.

The comeback was the right thing to do, at the right time, for the right reasons and against the right opponent. His last fight was haunting him, he had looked at suicide, his life was ruined and he needed to fight. It was easy to understand and difficult to condemn once the redemption juggernaut left the station.

Hatton had repeatedly poured his heart out to many and he had devoted his life to getting ready in the gym, but I believe he knew that something was lacking. He knew the risks attached to losing, knew what the 42-month break had done to his body and that is why he took the risk of getting a former world champion for his first opponent. He never wanted to end losing to a bum. He also said last week that he would quit if he won and felt that he had lost it; I believe he was telling the truth and thankfully Senchenko put the decision beyond doubt with a sublime body shot.

"I'm not going to say that I'm the greatest British fighter of all time, but nobody has had my support. That is my greatest achievement," Hatton told me a couple of years ago. There is, after 15 years and 48 fights, nothing else left to say about his extraordinary career and he can now retire with pride.

Ring rusty returns: Calamitous comebacks

Muhammad Ali

Ali returned to the ring aged 38 after a two-year absence in 1980 to fight Larry Holmes. His opponent was then unbeaten and pounded the former heavyweight champion for 10 rounds before the towel was thrown in by trainer Angelo Dundee.

Sugar Ray Leonard

The middleweight retired several times and made numerous comebacks but his final effort, aged 40, proved ill-judged as he was pummelled by the late Hector Camacho in 1997.

Joe Louis

Financial difficulties forced Louis out of retirement when well past his prime and his career was ended in 1951, aged 37, with a comprehensive eighth-round stoppage by Rocky Marciano.

Felix Trinidad

The classy Puerto Rican was twice tempted out of retirement. On the second occasion, in January 2008 aged 35, he lost in decisive fashion to Roy Jones Jr.

Barry McGuigan

The "Clones Cyclone" called time on his career following a world-title defeat by Stevie Cruz in 1986, but returned two years later and was emphatically stopped by Jim McDonnell in his fourth comeback fight.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions