Former four-time world champion Ricky Hatton will know later tonight whether the last six months of painstaking weight-loss and training have been worth it as he meets dangerous Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in Manchester.
The 34 year-old, who announced his retirement in 2009 following a crushing loss to Manny Pacquiao, is hoping to rid himself of some heavy baggage on the back of that KO, baggage that led to him spiralling into depression and abusing his body whilst away from boxing.
The ‘Hitman’ made the decision to give boxing another go in the summer and has since lost five stone (70lbs) as he attempts to get back into the world title mix at welterweight against one-time WBA title holder Senchenko.
Donetsk-based Senchenko, 35, only experienced his first defeat last April when toppled by Hatton-rival Paulie Malignaggi after suffering a bad eye injury and will be intent on derailing any plans that the likeable Mancunian has of reclaiming former glories.
If Senchenko can overthrow Hatton tonight it will surely mean the end of popular fighter’s career, although with odds of 3/1 on, the bookmakers believe that Hatton can exercise his demons and make a spectacular return to the top.
A victory for the two-weight world title holder almost certainly sets up a rematch with Malignaggi sometime in March or April at the newly-built Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and would give Hatton the opportunity to claim another world belt immediately.
The anticipation going into this bout is as intense as I can remember for a contest involving a British fighter, as the vast majority of fans will be rooting for Hatton and hoping that another disaster performance, like the Pacquiao defeat, is averted.
With Malignaggi defeating Senchenko in nine rounds of their title meeting earlier in the year, there is no doubt that Hatton will be keen to better that performance and I believe he can, and stop the rangy Senchenko within eight rounds.
With 18,000 adoring fans out to witness the return of one of the UK’s most loved boxing sons, I am positive that this can lift Hatton to a life-changing victory and put him back on track to once again be on top of the world.