LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Sr. spelled out with uncharacteristic lucidity the unwanted reality that thousands of British fight fans already felt in the pit of their stomachs.
Ricky Hatton – said the man who trained him amid rumors of ructions and personality conflicts – must retire.
The second and resoundingly more devastating of Hatton's defeats may have come against a living legend in Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but that should not be used as an excuse to squeeze more out of a boxer's body and a fighting will that are spent.
It would be fitting if a career path that was briefly paved with gold and lined by an army of loyal fanatics came to its natural end in this city of chance. Hatton cannot go out as the best, although waving goodbye having faced the best in pound-for-pound champs Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. may be a resolution he can come to terms with.
The popular scrapper from Manchester, England, tried his hand at the fight game's top table and came up short on both occasions. He has made good money, thanks in no small part to his massive fan base, and it is time to go with his head held high.
The temptation to continue will be strong, as is the case for most men who make a profession in the most reckoning of arenas. There are fights that could be made – a potential bout with emerging British prospect Amir Khan would be one possibility – but none with Hatton shining in the bright lights of Las Vegas and headlining against a titan of the sport. Those days, or nights, are gone.
Mayweather Sr. was left embittered by this experience, his pain made more acute by losing to his hated training rival, Freddie Roach. However, his assessment that Hatton should quit did not appear to be rooted in malice.
"Frankly speaking, I do think it should be the end for Ricky," Mayweather said. "He has fought the best twice and lost. "If he was to carry on and lose to a lesser fighter, then it would be sad. He has made a buck and it makes sense to go."
Hatton could not cope with the speed of Pacquiao and was unable to connect with anything of significance. Two first-round knockdowns set the tone for a quick night and the critical blow came with a left hook in the dying moments of the second.
Hatton was left flat on his back knocked out cold, causing referee Kenny Bayless to take immediate and correct action in waving the bout over.
"It was a hard loss," said Hatton from a local hospital, where he was taken for a precautionary check. "I really didn't see the punch coming and it was a great shot.
"It is hard to take but I know I will be OK."
Hatton will choose whether this is the end of a chapter or the end of a career. One of the most popular fighters of all time, he may feel he owes his band of followers more than to go out in such a spectacularly crushing manner. But he owes it to himself to make the toughest walk of all.
Away from boxing.