Hatton return will not have a happy ending
EVEN if Ricky Hatton is successful in his comeback fight tonight, I can only see it as winning a battle and not the war.
When I saw Hatton taken apart by Manny Pacquiao inside two rounds three and a half years' ago in Las Vegas, I hoped never to see him in the ring again.
Although the world-title fight was all-too-brief, the fabulous and fearsome Filipino exposed every flaw in Hatton's armoury and underlined every reason why he should quit – for good.
Pacquiao is different class and many of us feared beforehand he would wreck Hatton's career, if not his health.
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It's a no-brainer, Ricky, I thought then and still do: brave and brilliant as you are and were, and a godsend for boxing, get out and stay out.
You've also made a lot of money, so don't push your luck, time's up, you've been counted out, now let us remember the good nights, when as a box-fighter, you were world-class.
But, like so many others before him, like moths to a flame, all are drawn back for a last crack at the limelight, citing so many very good reasons why.
Mainly, it seems to me, that once sportsmen and so frequently boxers quit the disciplined, monastic lifestyle and unique camaraderie of the gym, they are cast adrift and don't know what to do with their time.
Well, poor old Ricky did: substance abuse and depression were his sparring partners and he almost lost to those, too.
But he hasn't been beaten outside the ring, as he says, although it comes to something when the pain game is the only cure.
On the positive side, though, in people's champion Hatton's case, a full house at the Manchester Arena tonight against Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko shows he is still a big draw.
And, bottom line, it is the economics of the business that will determine whether 34-year-old Hatton is anything other than a novelty act for the TV companies and promoters.
There is no doubting Hatton's courage nor his dogged conviction that he can still mix it with the best fighters in the welterweight category.
Hatton, who held two world titles in his pomp, is looking for redemption and has promised to be at his meanest tonight against former WBA world champion Senchenko.
If Hatton wins, and I believe he will, as Senchenko's record is not wildly worrying, what then?
Does Hatton really feel he can achieve what he failed to do before and outwit and outclass the best in his category?
Not unless you're including the vulnerable Amir Khan in that count.
Ricky reckons he will turn the clock back and shock the critics. Well, I hope he does, I really do, romantic sports stories are in short supply, outside Hollywood, that is.
In real life comebacks don't result in happy endings.