Ricky Hatton’s boxing career looks to be over following a stunning ninth-round stoppage defeat to former WBA welterweight titlist (and significant underdog) Vyacheslav Senchenko at the Manchester Arena.
The end came abruptly when Hatton 45-3 (32KO’s) was nailed by a huge left hook to the ribs which sent him pitching forward into a heap. Referee Victor Laughlan administered the count but the vanquished warrior never looked like he intended to get up. Senchenko 33-1 (22KO’s) celebrated and you could have heard a pin drop at the home venue.
The official time was 2.52.
The warning signs were apparent early. In the opening seconds Hatton was walking into the left jab and missing wildly with hooks. The Ukrainian had read the script, there were no surprises, and he struck the target with accuracy.
Hatton, usually fantastic at cutting off the ring, no longer had the footwork to catch up as Senchenko located the escape routes with ease.
Senchenko continued to walk Hatton into the jab in round two and also whipped in some thumping right hooks to the head which landed with an audible thud. The British star was still aggressive, so things remained close, but all the clean work was coming from the visitor.
Hatton bit down on his gum shield in the third and produced some of his best work. Big hooks were finding the head and body of Senchenko but, in return, the Ukrainian openly mocked Hatton’s success and landed some head snapping shots of his own.
Ironically Hatton’s best session was the beginning of the end. Senchenko had felt the power, he wasn’t impressed, and the pain game had begun. Hatton was hurt as much by his own ineffectiveness as the punches which were putting him further and further behind.
In the seventh Senchenko was cut under the left eye but just when Hatton sensed his moment he was caught hard by a multi-punch salvo which had him reeling. Senchenko was superior technically and he was also the tougher man in the ring – a shock to everyone in attendance.
The eighth was just as embarrassing. Hatton was chastising himself after each miss and catching flush headshots repeatedly. At this stage there appeared to be no way back and he needed an unlikely knockout to save the day and the comeback.
There was a knockout – but it came from Senchenko.
This super-hyped contest went from stepping stone to stumbling block and only succeeded in reaffirming the ex-champion’s athletic decline. At times it was painful to watch and the 20,000-strong crowd were reduced to mourning as the obvious confronted them.
In truth Hatton’s decline began in 2007 when he lost his unbeaten record to legendary American Floyd Mayweather Jr. He had his moments against the pound-for-pound star but caught way too many headshots and succumbed to a decisive tenth-round stoppage defeat. A homecoming bout against Juan Lazcano, in the summer of 2008, was anything but impressive and a win over Paulie Malignaggi flattered to deceive before the real problems started.
The Hitman took out a contract on Manny Pacquiao in May 2009 but got a taste of his own medicine when the sharpshooting Filipino staple-gunned him to the deck with an enormous left hook to the jaw in round two. The Manchester hero was unconscious for minutes and, in the aftermath, his life spiralled out of control amidst a haze of booze, drugs, personal problems and depression.
Still, despite those indiscretions, the affable ex-champion continued to give back to the sport as both trainer and promoter. Thousands of fans were excited about this comeback while several experts, perhaps closer to the sport and the situation itself, would have preferred him to remain gloveless.
If justice is served Hatton will always be remembered for his ultimate scalp, Kostya Tzsyu; the body shot knockout, Jose Luis Castillo and the welterweight scrap with Luis Collazo in Boston because those far outweigh a melancholy ending.
“Pride in Battle” is the tattoo emblazoned across the shoulders of The Hitman and after the wars he has waged, in life, and in the ring, that is one very fitting inscription.
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Scott Quigg vs. Rendall Munroe
Scott Quigg (25-0-1, 18 KOs) scored an impressive sixth-round technical knockout of former world title challenger Rendall Munroe (24-3-1, 10 KOs) in a junior featherweight rematch.
Quigg released a compact combination, punctuated by a terrific left hook to the body, and sucked the wind from Munroe, who instantly took a knee. The 32-year-old southpaw rose gamely but he was distressed and another savage attack to the ribcage ended matters.
The official time was 2.37.
The bout had been relatively even with Quigg utilizing an economical approach to score the sharper blows while Munroe, always the workman, let his shots go in bunches. Still, it was Quigg delivering the major artillery and he was dropping dynamite around the mid-section from the get-go.
The two men had met, in June on this year, but proceedings were cut short when Munroe suffered a horrendous eye cut, following a clash of heads, which saw the bout declared a technical draw.
Quigg, a former British champion, is an exciting talent who is being groomed for stardom by acclaimed trainer Joe Gallagher in the Manchester area. The 24-year-old recently won the prestigious “Young Boxer of the Year Award” in the UK and is closing in on a world title shot.
This defeat will likely put an end to Munroe’s world title aspirations. In October 2010 he dropped a unanimous decision to then-WBA champion Toshiaki Nishioka.
Photos / Scott Heavey-Gettyimages, Leigh Dawney
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and contributes to various publications. He compiles the boxer profiles and fight breakdowns for Frank Warren Promotions official fight programmes. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing