Ricky Hatton lost by knock out to Vyacheslav Senchenko on Saturday night in Manchester, getting dropped by a left hook to the liver in the 9th round. He was unable to beat the count, putting a stunning and sudden end to an evening which at first appeared to be on its way towards a glorious, happy comeback.
He had been winning on the official scorecards at the time of the stoppage, 78-74, 77-76, and 77-76, but just couldn't close the show. I had Hatton ahead 78-75 through eight rounds, and had him winning Round 9 as well until he was sent down, ending the fight.
Hatton took control of the first half of the bout with his pressure, aggression and work rate. Despite the layoff, he seemed to be displaying all-around good stamina and skill.
However, as he tired, he grew sloppier and wilder. Senchenko used the opportunity to start fighting his own fight, using his superior height and reach to keep Hatton at the end of his punches. Hatton continued to square up, leaving Senchenko ample opportunities to land clean lead punches, as flush counters. He found a home for straight rights, and start picking Hatton off on his way inside.
In the 9th, it was a perfectly placed, pinpoint left hook which crumpled Hatton. He got to one knee but never got higher than that, and was counted out to lose his comeback bid via knockout.
After the count ended, he fell to the canvas and was writhing in pain, immobilized for another minute. The pro-Hatton crowd - it was a typically boisterous and festive Hattno fight atmosphere with some 20,000 paying customers - continued chanting for their man after the defeat, singing their famous, "There's only one... Ricky Hatton!" It was a touching moment as the crowd showed The Hitman their appreciation.
Now the question turns to whether or not the Hatton vs. Senchenko results will lead to Hatton's permanent retirement from the ring. "There's a lot I need to think about," he said in a post-fight interview, noting that he felt he was winning the fight despite the stoppage, and was enjoying the experience.
Ultimately, he said he didn't want to rush towards any decisions about his future. Despite the loss, the potential still exists for a lucrative rematch against Paulie Malignaggi. Other big-money fights for him exist against the likes of Amir Khan or Kell Brook.
However, seeing him after the fight, with his right cheek swollen up to a grotesque size, and seeing him so clearly emotionally drained and defeated from the defeat, one wonders if it's not best that he takes this opportunity to walk away with his head held high.
This comeback was about more than simply trying to get back to the top of the boxing world, after all. It was about conquering his demons, and coming back from the drugs, the drinking, the depression and the suicide attempts, and the chaos he has put himself and his family through over the past three or four years. Regardless of what his boxing record shows, we should all consider him a winner for his efforts here.
"I'm absolutely heartbroken... I can't keep picking my ass up off the floor," he said, breaking down, and continuing, "I'm not a failure... I'm not a failure..."
Sources: Showtime Boxing coverage, Yahoo! Sports
Jake Emen runs the boxing news websiteProBoxing-Fans.com, where you can find breaking news stories, interviews, rankings and more. You can also follow Jake and ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter,@ProBoxingFans.