Former WBA welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko is on course for another shot at a world title after taking out a fading Ricky Hatton in nine rounds at the Manchester Arena.
The 35 year-old recovered from a slow start to gain a foothold in the fight from the fourth round as a ring-rusty Hatton felt the pace following a three and a half year absence from the ring.
Hatton, 34, was greeted by an adoring capacity crowd in his home town as he entered to his usual ‘Blue Moon’ theme tune, although the occasion proved too much for the Briton after a promising start.
The ‘Hitman’ showed glimpses of his old self in the first two rounds and looked to have worked out Senchenko’s awkward style early on, but ultimately ran out of steam in the second half of the fight, leading to his tactics going out of the window.
Senchenko was catching Hatton as he came in time and again from the fifth round as the two-weight world title holder clearly had timing issues with his punches and the writing was on the wall from that point on.
A crunching body shot in the ninth round was the finisher and an exhausted Hatton could not even have made a twenty count from referee Victor Loughlin as Senchenko celebrated his underdog victory.
Immediately following the fight, Hatton re-announced his retirement from boxing, as promised, and hopefully has put to rest the demons that haunted him after his crushing loss to Manny Pacquiao.
Whether Senchenko has done enough to impress the US TV executives into accepting him as Paulie Malignaggi’s next opponent in Hatton’s place remains to be seen, although a title opportunity shouldn’t be far away for the Donestk fighter.