Kevin Garside: Ricky Hatton's return will add little to career that had reached natural conclusion

The Way I See It: Hatton walked through incoming fire. He took a punch to give one

Ricky Hatton's alter ego is a comedian delivering ribald one-liners at the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. He leans with one arm draped across the mike as the patter flows. It was this orientation he adopted after his stoppage defeat, his first as a professional, to Floyd Mayweather Jnr five years ago. "I f***ing slipped," he said, the lines of his broken face cracking into a smile. Comedy was the way out, a go-to routine for diffusing awkward moments. Hatton was well beaten that night, and hurt. A fine fighting instinct and courageous heart had met its match in the slick power of the better man.

There was a sense then that Hatton's career, one of the best in British boxing, had run its course, reached a natural full stop. This was his 44th professional fight. Hatton was not a delicate flower in the ring. He did not fight on the end of a long reach, behind a searing jab before stepping adroitly out of range. He walked through incoming fire. He took a punch to give one, in the hope of landing the telling blow in the soft tissues under the ribs. It was attritional stuff, a style that carries a higher tariff the further up the boxing food chain you go.

Hatton went all the way. His victory over Kostya Tszyu in Manchester seven years ago was one of the finest seen in a British ring. By increments he was edging towards Las Vegas and the big show. And what fun it was. Tens of thousands of happy Mancs followed him down the Strip. A band of players from The Sun newspaper piped him in and out of fight week. "There's only one Ricky Hatton" echoed around the casinos. Football comes to Vegas. The weigh-in was mad. The lads stood for hours in queues that snaked around the restaurants and bars and on to the casino floor. The MC inside the MGM Grand Arena could not be heard when our hero stepped out of his tracksuit to reveal the abs of Dionysus on the scales. "Come on," screamed Ricky, "let's 'ave it."

And have it he did, over 10 coruscating rounds. Mayweather paid credit to the bravery and skill of his opponent. He admitted to surprise at how good a fighter Hatton was. Hatton briefly troubled Mayweather early on. There was a shot down the pipe in the third and more aggression in the fifth. But as the fight wore on Mayweather demonstrated his superiority. The eighth was particularly punishing. Hatton was spent and outclassed at the end. This was the kind of defeat that underscores a career. It told Hatton how far he had come and, more importantly, that there was probably nowhere for him to go.

Nevertheless the other great protagonist in the light welterweight/welterweight firmament, Manny Pacquiao, was out there waiting to be taken. Pacquiao offered a different challenge, one that might give Hatton a way of re-establishing his credentials. He would never beat Mayweather in a month of Sundays but to take down Pacquiao, well, that would be something. Out came the pipers. Across the Atlantic did the Mancunian diaspora gather once more in a Hatton-fest that would be different this time.

It was different. Brutally so. Pacquiao smashed Hatton in two vicious rounds. When Hatton's head bounced off the canvas at the end a primal gasp, associated with fear and dread, filled the arena. Hatton lay motionless, his body traumatised by the shock and awe of Pacquiao's chilling attack. Hatton had gone to the well once too often, ballooned and dieted between bouts too many times, trained to the point of exhaustion. Enough was enough. Pacquiao's fists told him so. And so it was that Hatton departed the scene, a first-class career brought to a close over successive bouts by two of the greatest fighters to lace gloves.

But hold on a minute. It can't end like that, lads. That is not how it was meant to be for me. I'm Ricky Hatton. The Hitman. I'm a legend. A fighter. A winner. I owe it to my family, my children, my parents, my city, my people. I have been through some stuff these past three years, brought shame on those who love me and care about me. I owe it to them to go give it one last hurrah, to remind them what the real Ricky Hatton is all about, to show them that the desperate, dissolute, drug-abusing loser that I became has been chased out of town for good.

Oh Ricky. You lovable fool. We never felt let down by you, even at your lowest ebb. We knew you were suffering and admired how, in the end, you acknowledged your troubles and faced them down. You said you were sorry. That was enough for us. You don't have to knock 10 bells out of AN Other to earn our respect, to prove your value. What you were as a fighter is etched in the blood of those you beat, all 45 of them. One more won't make a difference. Another defeat on the other hand, might. Not to us, but to you, and those you love.

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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Glazier

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist historic buildi...

Recruitment Genius: Office and Customer Services Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small but very busy (and f...

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot