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Ricky Hatton was ‘terrifically brave’ in comeback bout but proved he’s not the fighter he was, claims Barry McGuigan

Exclusive by Michael Kelleher

Ricky Hatton may have been ‘terrifically brave’ in his comeback bout, but it only proved he is no longer the fighter he once was, Barry McGuigan claimed today.

The Hitman was knocked out by a ninth-round body punch from Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in front of 20,000 fans at Manchester Arena – only his third ever defeat.

McGuigan felt it was obvious to everyone, including Hatton, that he was not the same fighter but also thought he could have chosen an easier opponent after three years out.

“I thought he was terrifically brave as usual but his timing was off. He came back to a very hard fight and I thought he could have picked an easier opponent,” he said.

“As he said, and I agree and understand where he is coming from, from a mental point of view he wanted to know if he could still compete at the highest level.

“That question was answered resoundingly. He is not the fighter that he was and therefore he does not want to be involved with the sport any more.

“That I think is very honest and that is one of the great things about Ricky – he has always been very honest.”

McGuigan is well-placed to comment on Hatton’s unsuccessful comeback attempt because his own career followed a similar path.

The Northern Irish fighter lost his world title in 1986 to underdog American Stevie Cruz in Las Vegas, after which he announced his retirement.

He returned in 1988 for a four fight stint but a variety of factors including the death of his father and a legal dispute with his manager left him a shadow of his former self.

The Hall of Fame fighter retired for the second and final time after a fourth round technical knockout by Englishman Jim McDonnell in May, 1989.

He feels that although his comeback was ultimately unsuccessful, the dynamics which determine the success of a comeback vary between fighters.

“It depends on who the kid is, it depends what his team is like and what is happening in his life,” he said.

“For me, I had a lot of things going on including trouble with my management and that all sort of hit at the same time.

“I was out too long and I don’t think I had the same will when I came back. My father had passed away and circumstances changed for me but it is different for each fighter.”

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