Ricky Hatton knocked out in ninth round, issues tearful message to fans: "I'm so sorry."

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COMMENTARY | The dream is over before it really began. Ricky Hatton's comeback bid after more than three years of troubled retirement was foiled by the Ukraine's Vyacheslav Senchenko (33-1, 22 KOs) with a crushing liver shot in the ninth round.

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Ricky Hatton is consoled after losing his fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko. (AP)

Although Hatton (45-3, 32 KOs) was fired up and aggressive in the first half of the bout, but when the nervous energy dissipated and reality started to sink in, Senchenko began to pick the former two-division world champ apart. From the sixth round on, Hatton found himself on the receiving end of flush-landing jabs and smart body shots that slowly broke him down.

In the ninth round the former WBA welterweight titlist, Senchenko, landed a solid liver shot that sent Hatton to the canvas. The popular British battler tried to pull himself together to beat the count, but simply couldn't.

After the bout, a dejected, emotional Hatton gave a heart-breaking post-fight interview, stating, "I'm absolutely heartbroken...I can't keep picking my ass up off the floor...I'm not a failure... I'm not a failure..."

When asked to address his legion of fans directly, he could only muster a tearful, "I'm so sorry."

It was truly a sad moment in the career of a man who has given so much of himself to the sport and its fans. And, given his well-documented issues with drugs, alcohol, and suicide attempts, the first thought after the loss had to be concerning Hatton's psychological well-being. The sad scene following his knockout loss had to be distressing to anyone who was aware of Hatton's inner demons and just how much of his heart and soul was, apparently, still tied up in being a successful boxer.

At 34, Hatton now has irrefutable proof that he can no longer hold these illusions. A world title shot for Paulie Malignaggi's WBA belt, tentatively set aside for March, is now a dead issue.

Being knocked out by Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is one thing, but being busted up and knocked out by the light-hitting Senchenko, who had only stopped one opponent in the last four years, is quite another. The lesson had to be learned. The sport has passed Ricky Hatton by. Of course, he can still live and breathe the manly art, but it'll have to be in an indirect, non-participatory way. Hatton is still a promoter, a gym owner, and would be an entertaining and insightful TV commentator if given the chance. There's plenty of future for Ricky Hatton and plenty of boxing left in his life.

In the build-up to this fight, Hatton mentioned needing to come back because of the way he was retired by Pacquiao, needing to leave the sport on better terms. Well, in boxing, sometimes that just can't happen. Sometimes the sport passes you by and there's no way back home.

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Vyacheslav Senchenko connects with a punch on Ricky Hatton on Saturday. (AP)

Ironically, this knockout loss to a fairly pedestrian opponent could be the best thing to happen to the proud prizefighter. It's the closure that he desperately needs on a career that is simply no longer a viable alternative. In the past, he could rationalize his losses to Pacquiao and Mayweather as the product of poor training habits or simply because he was fighting the sport's very best pound-for-pound stars. Now, following the Senchenko loss, those types of excuses and justifications hold very little water. Simply put, if he couldn't beat Senchenko, he wouldn't get within sniffing distance of any legitimate contender. His family and friends should just be thankful that the definitive end came at the hands of someone like Senchenko and not a younger, stronger, offensive powerhouse who might've really hurt the affable former world champ.

The sport of boxing will be just fine without Ricky Hatton and Hatton should be just fine without having to step into the ring. Here's hoping Manchester's hero can better deal with retirement this second time around.

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Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.

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