Ricky Hatton hangs hat on tough Senchenko bout

Ricky Hatton does not want an easy route back into the big time and believes his comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko will be no walk in the park.

The self-styled ‘Hitman’ confirmed at a media conference yesterday that his first bout since coming out of retirement would be against the 35-year-old Ukrainian at the Manchester Evening News Arena on 24 November.

Like Hatton, Senchenko is a former world welterweight champion, who lost his belt earlier this year when he suffered a first career loss in 33 outings against Paulie Malignaggi – a man Hatton has previously beaten. The Donetsk-based puncher therefore provides 33-year-old Hatton with a stern test on what will be his first ring appearance since his brutal dismantling by Manny Pacquiao in May 2009.

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But the sheer fact that Hatton dared to step into the ring with Pacquiao, regarded as the world’s best, shows he has never been afraid of a challenge while in pursuit of titles, and the former two-weight champion believes he is walking a similar path on his return.

“I always said from the start I wanted to fight someone who was world-ranked and known,” he said. “There were certain opponents mentioned, people like Michael Katsidis and people were excited about him coming, but I think this is a better opponent and I say that with the greatest respect.

“For my first fight back, to fight a former world champion, a world-ranked opponent, I think it speaks volumes for what I’m all about.

“I’ve never made things easy for myself, I never shirk the best. People said I might want to have an easy one to get my eye back in, but that’s not me.”

While fans may be disappointed that Hatton has not gone for a name such as Katsidis or, more ambitiously, a domestic rival such as Kell Brook or Amir Khan, the Manchester man is certain he has made the right choice.

Senchenko’s April loss to Malignaggi in the Donbass Arena was his last time in the ring, and like Hatton, will have something to prove in nine weeks’ time.

“He was a decorated amateur, a world champion, he lost his last fight against Paulie Malignaggi, he was stopped due to an injury,” Hatton said.

“The injury happened early on and he was later stopped due to it. That’s the only blemish, he’s going to want to come back stronger, I have been matched with him at his most dangerous, when he wants to bounce back, the same as me. I like to think fight fans will give me credit for who I have picked.”