Ricky Hatton (right) of Great Britain in action with Vyacheslav Senchenko of Ukraine during their welterweight bout at MEN Arena in Manchester, England. (Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Hatton never should have taken this fight Coming off of a 3 1/2 year layoff and moving up to a relatively new weight class, Hatton should have gone for a softer touch. Senchenko is not known as a big puncher but he is a former welterweight titleholder who defended his belt four times before losing it to Paulie Malignaggi last April. And Senchenko showed his savvy early, surviving the early rounds, when Hatton fought like a man with 20,000 fans behind him, and slowly picking Hatton apart as the gas tank in the 34-year old Hatton’s body moved toward empty. Hatton led 77-76 on SI.com’s scorecard going into the ninth round but a picturesque body shot–similar to the one Oscar De La Hoya ate in a 2004 loss to Bernard Hopkins–put him down and out.
Hatton’s decision to face Senchenko was brave, but shortsighted. He should have chosen an easier opponent that would have helped build his confidence going into a probable title shot against Malignaggi in 2013. The crowd wouldn’t have cared: Most of the 20,000 in Manchester bought tickets before an opponent was announced.
Hatton does not have to retire Before the fight, Hatton vowed that if he lost, he was finished. But he probably didn’t expect to lose a fight he was leading–Hatton was up on all three judges cards at the time of the stoppage–on a body shot that won’t have the lingering effect Manny Pacquiao’s concussive punch did on him in 2009. At the post-fight press conference Hatton declared that he was done (“I don’t have it anymore,” Hatton said. “That’s the end of Ricky Hatton.”) but we have seen fighters reverse emotional decisions before. Hatton could go back to the drawing board, perhaps try to drop another seven pounds and go back to the 140-pound division he was so good in and cherry pick a middling junior welterweight sometime next year. There is still talent there: His whipping right hands knocked Senchenko back, especially in the early rounds. But he can’t take on too much, too fast.
Et tu, Paulie? The biggest loser on Saturday may have been Malignaggi, in England working the broadcast for Showtime, who watched a $1 million plus payday disappear before his eyes. A rematch between Hatton and Malignaggi–Hatton stopped Malignaggi in the 11th round of a junior welterweight fight in 2008–would have done big business in either New York or the U.K.. Something tells me Malignaggi-Senchenko II isn’t going to be worth the same kind of cash.