Sport

Hyde fighter Ricky Hatton’s battle with drink, drugs and depression made girlfriend fearful about his ring return

By Michael Kelleher

Hyde fighter Ricky Hatton’s girlfriend Jennifer Dooley was the hardest person to convince about the merits of his much-anticipated return to the boxing ring.

Hatton, 34, whose last fight almost three years ago against Manny Pacquiao ended in a devastating knockout, takes on Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko at Manchester Arena tomorrow night.

Hatton endured battles with his weight, drink, drugs and depression after hanging up his gloves and he conceded Dooley was worried a return to the spotlight would compromise his recovery.

“Jennifer was the hardest one to convince,” he said. “People have said, ‘Did boxing save your life, Ricky?’ but I’d got myself together mentally before I even mentioned a comeback.

“I started losing all the weight and looking after myself.

“I said to Jen the first day, ‘I’m thinking of giving it another go’, and Jennifer went, ‘Oh Rick, what are you doing, you’re all right now, why do you want to put it in jeopardy again’?”

Hatton, who went into shocking detail about just how far his struggle with depression pushed him, made Dooley see that he needed a return to boxing in order to turn his life around.

“I said to her: ‘You’ve seen what I’ve been through, how bad it was – you coming downstairs in the morning and I’m having a nervous breakdown with a knife to my wrist,” he explained.

“You know why I have to come back. It’s hurt me that I’ve let myself down.’

“I’ve got to do this for the sake of my life, not for my career, for my life and I know there’s going to be a few critics out there but just give me the chance.”

The Hitman hopes a return to the sport that defined him can give him purpose and help banish the demons that have plagued him since he stepped away from the ring.

The former two-weight world champion is adamant that he is more motivated for this fight than any other of his storied career and is determined regain and surpass his best form.

“When I beat Kostya Tszyu to win my first world title I was at my hungriest because I had a dream of becoming world champion but the desire I have for this fight is way beyond that,” he said.

“All those world titles mean nothing to me. I’m here to right the wrongs I’ve done. I’ve let a lot of people down.

“I know you won’t believe me, after burning the candle at both ends, the second-round defeat against Manny Pacquiao, no way can he come back the same.

“Well I won’t come back the same; I’m going to come back better.”

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