Ricky Hatton feeling 'as good as ever' ahead of comeback

By Ben DirsBBC Sport

Ricky Hatton says he feels "as good as ever" before his return to the ring against Vyacheslav Senchenko in Manchester on 24 November.

But in September he announced he was coming out of retirement in a bid for "redemption" following three years of depression and substance abuse.

"It's been a long time since I've felt like this," said Hatton.

"Those close to me have all seen me on the verge of a nervous breakdown and suicide and all of a sudden I'm laughing and joking and have got a spring in my step. I've already won."

On Wednesday, Hatton performed a media workout at his gym in Hyde, Greater Manchester, and looked in fine shape as he was put through his paces by trainer Bob Shannon.

And the former two-weight world champion said he was motivated by proving wrong all those who believe his comeback will end in failure.

"There are people out there who are going to be thinking: 'He's 34, had all them hard fights, got splattered by Manny Pacquiao, all them personal problems, there's no chance he's going to come back'.

"But when it started getting hard - when I first started sparring, the first time I got hit, the first time I had to do hill sprints and my arms and legs were burning - that's what started going through my head: 'Don't fail because they're all expecting you to fail.'

"It was like when Kostya Tszyu was hitting me with those right hands [Hatton won the IBF light-welterweight title from Tszyu in 2005] - don't let them win. It is a similar motivation."

Hatton described his training camp with Shannon as the best he has experienced since his formative years with Billy Graham, from whom he split in 2008.

"The best work I did was with Billy Graham, by a country mile," said Hatton, who has 45 wins from 47 professional fights.

"Billy made me the fighter I was. But the last three years of my career, Billy was having needles in his elbows and hands, he slowed down.

"It wasn't his fault, it was Father Time catching up with him, but consequently I was working on offence but he couldn't throw the shots back at me.

"This time it's been back to basics. As any fighter will tell you, if you don't do it in the gym, you won't do it in the ring. No disrespect to Billy, but I wasn't doing it in the gym.

"Bob is very fit and enthusiastic, I'm stepping off now, moving my head, changing the angles. I've had a proper dress rehearsal."

Former British and European light-middleweight champion Jamie Moore watched Hatton spar 10 rounds on Tuesday and said he looked "as good as he has done in 15 years as a pro".

"I've seen him slowly and steadily building himself into a machine," said Moore, also from Manchester.

"I've seen numerous sparring sessions of his over the duration of his career and he looks no different than he has done, if not a little bit better.

"His head movement has improved and his body shots sounded like he was beating a drum. He's got me excited."