Wednesday, 22 August 2012 19:19

Ricky Hatton | Why the 'Hitman' Can Make a Successful Return

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On September 14th, Ricky Hatton announced that he is set to make a sensational return to the ring. The 33-year-old former world light-welterweight and welterweight champion will return to action at the Manchester Arena on November 24.

After being sliced and diced by Manny Pacquiao in 2009, the 33-year-old Brit went on a two year hiatus before finally formally announcing his retirement last summer after his life seemingly spiraled out of control as a result of cocaine addiction and depression.

Today, the former two-time world champion and once in-your-face brawler is a recovering addict who has established himself as a respected trainer and promoter in a very short time.

According to the Daily Star, 'Hitman' Hatton has lost 34lbs since returning to the gym and is looking to land a megafight rematch with WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi whom he soundly defeated four years ago.

Hatton vs Mallignaggi 2 Makes Sense
The WBA Welterweight Champion, fresh off his stunning 9th Round TKO over previously unbeaten Vyacheslav Senchenko (then 32-0) in Donetsk, Ukraine in April, would love nothing more than to avenge his loss to Ricky Hatton.

And aside from bouts against Mayweather, Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Tim Bradley, Hatton vs Malignaggi II probably represents Paulie's most lucrative option.

Pictured: Ricky Hatton, left, and Paul Malignaggi face-off in 2008 during the weigh-in prior to Hatton vs Malignaggi


"I'm hearing that Ricky Hatton is interested in a comeback and I'm hearing rumours that I'm the target of that comeback," stated Paulie to BoxingScene.

"I've had three rematches in my career and I'm 3-0 in those rematches."

Hearkening back to the beating he took from Hatton in 2008, Malignaggi added, "It's a loss that I've had to live with. It's a loss that hindered me and every day I think about that loss and it bothers me.

"The rematch is something that interests me. I have nothing but respect for Ricky, his fans and his family."


"I know that he wants to come back and win a title to reclaim old glory but it's my time now and I know I can beat Ricky Hatton."

Hatton's Chances
At only 33, Ricky Hatton can make a successful return to the ring and attain championship glory once again as long as he's focused and patient. Fight-wise, his body has been well-preserved. He he hasn't taken any shots nor has he put his body through the rigors of training in quite some time.

Manny Pacquiao is 33 as well but has had little or no rest since turning pro in his teens. PacMan is like a car that's being driven daily and accruing wear and tear on an ongoing basis. Hatton, on the other-hand, is a car that's virtually the same age but has been sitting in the garage the last three years.


If the cocaine hasn't done irreparable physical harm, Hatton should be a fresh body when or if he enters the ring in November. And while ring rust is inevitable, expect him to be as "fresh" as he's been since the early days in his career.

Ricky Hatton and George Foreman
George Foreman launched the most successful comeback ever at 38 following a 10 year respite. Hatton is only 33 and coming off a 3 year hiatus.

And while its highly arguable to compare a welterweight to a power-punching heavyweight like Foreman, Hatton's bruising style is certainly more conducive to that of an aging, slowing fighter.

Like Foreman, Hatton was not dependent on his reflexes nor was he a slick, overly-technical, balls-on-your-feet boxer. Like Big George, Hatton was a pressuring mauler who liked to smother his opponents. Even if there's been some degradation in Hatton's speed, his power, like Foreman's, will be 'alive and well' as power is the last thing to exit an aging fighter's artillery.

Pictured: At 45, George Foreman stands over then-heavyweight champion Michael Moorer. Can Ricky Hatton replicate this feat at 34 or 35?


And some fighters have arguably added power as they've put on weight in their 30s... Sergio Martinez, Evander Holyfield, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez to name a few.

The three years away may have actually helped the "Hitman." But, again, the caveat is the drugs... Have his addictions taken a toll on Ricky mentally and physically?  My guess is probably not!

The most important factor will be patience. Big George didn't fight Evander Holyfield and Michael Moorer right away. As a matter of fact, he had 19 fights against journeymen and alleged 'tomato cans' before stepping in the ring with his first 'name' opponent, Gerry Cooney. 

And although Foreman was criticized for fighting low-caliber opponents, there was a method to his madness. 

Looking back, Foreman's first 19 bouts may have been nothing more than gloried sparring sessions BUT Big George got better and better with each passing fight. In the end, those bouts served him well.

Even Mike Tyson had four tune-ups before facing the likes of Evander Holyfield after the former's release from prison. And yes, even though Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon held world titles, they were -  for all intents and purposes - Tyson tune-ups for the division's big guns: Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, George Foreman and "arguably" Tommy Morrison. 

Pictured: Mike Tyson, right, punishes then WBC Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno en route to becoming WBC Heavyweight Champion again.

Ricky Hatton take heed.

Get at least 3 or 4 tune-ups on your ledger and shake off that ring rust before fighting world class opponents. The media will ridicule you but those bouts will suitably prepare you for your much bigger tasks against Malignaggi and/or perhaps Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Tim Bradley or Robert Guerrero.

Hatton's path back to boxing's mountaintop won't be easy and whether he will be successful remains to be seen... But there's no reason why he can't.

Lee Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.