Ricky Hatton looks to keep the British boxing flag flying high

Boxing Gloves

Tomorrow night sees the return to the ring of one of the icons of British boxing. Ricky Hatton’s return has divided opinion, with experts and previous opponents wading in on the debate.

Former foe Manny Pacquiao was quoted as saying that Hatton’s comeback is a mistake, whilst Pauli Malignaggi – Who Hatton beat in 2008 – is surprised he has picked such a dangerous opponent in Vyacheslav Senchenko.

My opinion sides with Pacquiao, but try telling that to any of 20,000 fans roaring on The Hitman tomorrow night at the MEN Arena.

Despite his last fight being over three-and-a-half years ago, he appears not have lost any of his box office reputation - though I am slightly surprised that the bout is being broadcast live on Showtime rather than Sky.

Nearly all the tickets were snapped up within 48 hours of them being released, showing that he is still popular with his beloved domestic fight fans.

After Carl Froch’s victory last weekend, Hatton needs to keep the British boxing flag flying high.

So does Hatton have a mountain to claim as he attempts to get a vital victory?

Well Senchenko appears to have a good pedigree, only tasting one defeat in 33 fights, losing his WBA Welterweight title in Donetsk against a rejuvenated Malignaggi.

The Ukrainian’s record does suggest that he is a talented fighter, though that damaging 9th TKO stoppage last time out, has led to people questioning his confidence.

Malignaggi believes the manner of his victory over Senchenko, who was clearly trouble by the American’s quick-hand speed, might have influenced Hatton Promotion’s decision to who would be The Hitman’s opponent for his much-anticipated comeback.

Whatever the reasons behind Senchenko being chosen, most experts, including the outspoken Malignaggi, do not see that bout as a walkover for Hatton, though most believe he will end the bout as the victor.

But tomorrow night’s tricky opponent is not the only concern I have with Hatton’s comeback. He recently opened up to The Telegraph, discussing how everything he achieved in boxing meant nothing after three years of depression, boozing and suicidal tendencies.

If he needs redemption for defeats against Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, then professional boxing is a dangerous form of counseling.

It can be an unforgiving sport, and we have seen many ‘greats’ step back into the ring and fail miserably, becoming a shadow of this former incarnation. Nobody wants that to happen to Hatton, but surely it’s a distinct possibility.

The boxing industry has moved on since he retired, with the welterweight division becoming awash with young classy fighters like Devon Alexander - it will be tough ask for Hatton to recapture his former glory.

But for now, Hatton is saying all the right things, has the backing of boxers like Oscar De La Hoya, and I can’t see Senchenko causing him too many problems at the MEN Arena on what is his night.

An explosive performance is what the crowd expects, and Ricky seldom disappoints. I just hope he’s victorious, because a defeat could send him down a difficult path.

Prediction: Hatton to win by TKO in 5th Round

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