BOXER Ricky Hatton has announced his comeback - to earn the nation’s pride again after seeing his life “turn to mush” in the three years since he last fought, writes Graham Walker.
VIDEO: Press the play button to see coverage of the press conference announcing his return.
The Hyde fighter has suffered a series of well-publicised issues in his private life since his last fight saw him knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in their IBO light-welterweight title fight in Las Vegas.
And Hatton insists he did not want to see those demons tarnish his legacy in the sport, with another world title belt in his sights.
He said: “It’s been well documented what’s happened to me since the last time you saw me in a boxing ring.
“I suffered a two-round demolition to Manny Pacquiao in my last fight and nobody wants to see their career end that way.
“Consequently it pushed me into retirement which I never really wanted to do, and what happened to me in the last three years came because of what happened to me in that fight and the manner of that defeat.”
Hatton was the subject of allegations of cocaine abuse two years ago and within days he was admitted to a rehabilitation facility. Drink and depression were major issues for Hatton at the time.
“I don’t want people telling my kids that I blew it,” Hatton said today as it was announced he would return to the ring on November 24 in Manchester.
“I want my kids to be able to say, ‘He was a world champion, he had his problems, but my did he bounce back’.
“I want people to be proud of me again. I want British sport, my kids and my fans and my friends to be proud of me.
“I had my problems but I’m over that now and I want people to look at me in a different light.
“I don’t want people to see how I flushed my life away.
“I understand there’ll be people concerned for my welfare and it’s nice to know there’s so many people care about me, but I think they know why I’m coming back.”
Hatton will have Manchester-based trainer Bob Shannon in his corner for the November fight, and it was Shannon’s back-to-basics approach which appealed to the former two-weight world champion.
“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in 12 weeks before a fight because I’m making up for three years of lost time,” Hatton said.
“Bob’s been a good friend of mine and I’ve been watching him coach from a distance for a number of years and his method of training is the old-school way I like to train.
“I had some of my best performances over the years with my trainer Billy Graham working with the body belt, working with the weights and the strength, angles and pushing off.
“I’ve gone back to basics in more ways than one and I’m pleased with how I’m performing in the gym.
“I don’t expect everyone to take my word for it and the only way I will convince the people is to flatten someone on November 24 - and that’s what I plan to do.”
Hatton did, however, appear to rule out any journeymen or novices by saying he does not want to think about any four or six-round fights to ease his way back into the ring.
He said: “I’m back to try to win another world title and in order to put myself in a position to do that I need a ranking fight.
“I’m not going to get ranked if I fight a journeyman, I need a challenge.
“I’ve never shied away from a challenge my whole career and nothing’s changed.
“It will be a fighter that people will respect me for choosing someone of that level and it will be an opponent that will get me ranked, and in getting me ranked I’ll be in a position to fulfil my dream which is to have another belt around my waist.
“As soon as I get myself ranked and in a position to fight for the world title then that’s what I’ll be going for.”
Hatton confirmed he would be returning at welterweight and did not rule out the possibility of a fight against fellow Brits Amir Kahn and Kell Brook at some point down the line.
“There’s the likes of Paulie Malignaggi who has won a world title at that weight and there’s some great fighters in this country like Amir Khan and Kell Brook, and I won’t lie to you, I would love a run and jump at those lot.
“But this is more than world titles, it’s about me redeeming myself.”
RICKY HATTON FACT FILE:
1978 - October 6: Born in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
1996 - Captures bronze medal at the World Amateur Championships.
1997 - September 11: Makes professional debut under the guidance of trainer Billy Graham and knocks out Colin McAuley in the first round at Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes.
1999 - Claims first pro title with a second-round TKO win against Tommy Peacock for the vacant Central Area light-welterweight title.
2000 - October 21: Beats Jon Thaxton on points to win the British light-welterweight title.
2001 - March 26: Wins vacant ‘fringe’ WBU light-welterweight title with fourth-round stoppage of Tony Pep.
2002 - June 1: Suffers first knockdown of his career in opening round against Eamonn Magee, but battles back to win on points.
2005 - June 4: Shocks the world by beating Kostya Tszyu, considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, in Manchester, winning the IBF light-welterweight title.
November 26: Overcomes nasty cuts to beat Carlos Maussa and add WBA crown to his IBF title.
December 21: Becomes first British fighter to receive the prestigious Ring Magazine ‘Fighter of the Year’ award.
2006 - Moves up to welterweight division and labours to victory against Luis Collazo, claiming the WBA title.
December: Awarded MBE in New Year’s Honours list.
2007 - January 20: Knocks out Jose Luis Castillo, retaining IBO belt and winning WBC international light-welterweight title, which was later vacated.
2007 - June: Hatton’s team agree terms with the camp of Floyd Mayweather for a December 8 fight in Las Vegas.
December 8: Knocked out in the 10th round by Mayweather in the first defeat of his professional career.
2008 - May 24: Retains IBO light-welterweight title by securing a unanimous points verdict against Juan Lazcano in front of 55,000 supporters at Manchester City’s Eastlands stadium.
July 29: Announces split from long-time trainer Billy Graham.
September 3: Announces he will be trained by Floyd Mayweather Snr for his November fight with Paulie Malignaggi.
November 22: Wins light-heavyweight bout with Malignaggi in Las Vegas after the American’s corner retire him in the 11th round.
2009 - May 2: Hatton’s reign as light-welterweight world champion comes to a brutal end as Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao delivers a stunning second-round knockout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
August 11: Hatton confirms an all-British fight against Amir Khan is “a possibility’’.
2010 - January 13: Hatton announces he will return to the ring in 2010.
September 13: A spokesman for Hatton confirms the fighter has entered a rehabilitation facility due to “severe depression’’ and a “drink problem’’. The announcement follows News of the World allegations of cocaine use by Hatton.
September 23: The British Boxing Board of Control announce they have withdrawn Hatton’s boxer’s licence.
2011 - July 7: Announces his retirement from boxing, more than two years after his defeat to Pacquiao.
2012 - September 14: Confirms at a press conference that he is to return to the ring, with a November 24 bout at the Manchester Arena against an as yet unnamed opponent.