Ricky Hatton’s fairytale return to the ring ended in tearful defeat as he was knocked out by a ninth-round body shot from fellow former champion Vyacheslav Senchenko.
Hatton, 34, was back in the ring for the first time since a devastating second-round knockout by Manny Pacquiao in 2009.
Last night’s 10-round welterweight comeback fight against Ukrainian former WBA champion Senchenko saw Hatton labour at times before succumbing to a painful body shot which left a packed Manchester Arena crowd devastated.
British hero Hatton was hoping to prove something to himself, his critics and his demons after seeing his life fall to pieces since the Pacquiao loss. Win or lose, just being back in the ring was an achievement following three years of depression, personal problems and battles with drink and drugs.
Hatton opted to take on credible opposition in the form of former WBA champion Senchenko, whose only loss came in his last bout against former Hatton victim Paulie Malignaggi.
After being roared into the ring by a 21,000-strong capacity crowd, Hatton started aggressively without landing anything of note but looking to shake off the ring rust and did enough to win the first round.
The second round was tight but Hatton had success in the third with trademark hooks and body shots. A straight right by Senchenko landed smack on Hatton’s nose, however.
A straight right followed by a body shot in the fourth were decent from Hatton and his left hooks were wild but occasionally successful. Two rights from Senchenko early in the sixth round caught Hatton and he seemed to lose the round as the first signs of tiredness crept in.
Senchenko, who had picked up a cut under the left eye, landed a lovely left hook in the seventh as he had another good round.
In the next, the Ukrainian landed several power shots which seemed to take their toll as his momentum continued to build.
The Englishman, whose only other previous loss had come against Floyd Mayweather, was undone in the ninth by a left to the body which sent him crashing down. The crowd urged their hero to rise but the Hitman was in too much pain as referee Victor Loughlin waved the bout off with eight seconds left in the round.