Jeff Powell: Ricky Hatton fighting fit.. but is comeback a healthy decision? | Mail Online

INTRO: Is it a healthy decision for qa pressure fighter like Hatton to come back after some of the hard fights and terrible losses he has suffered?  How many fighters have come back because they can't stand to be out of the spotlight only to take a beating?

Ricky Hatton is only 33 but after the way he's lived it up for most of those years they fear that his body is going on 43.

The concern, especially given a warrior instinct even harder to quench than his thirst, is that he will get himself badly hurt.

Hatton, as bright as he is brave, understands the anxiety. He's been out of the ring for three years and in that last appearance in Las Vegas he was knocked out so brutally by Manny Pacquiao that as he fell flat on his back, arms folded across his chest, for a few nasty minutes we thought he might have been killed rather than concussed.

It is hard to delete that image from any consideration of Hatton's immediate future. He does that by constantly reminding himself of how his brief fight with the PacMan was preceded by a training camp so chaotic that it left him drastically unprepared to fight one of the two greatest boxers on the planet.

Yet that in itself is not enough to convince him that he should return to battle. The most problematic question is whether that body – which he has driven through binge-boozing followed by ball-busting weight loss so often – can withstand another bout of punishment.

To find out, he has been working out as rigorously as he trains the stable of promising young fighters he now promotes.

More surprisingly he has largely been living the fighter's life, which is not only good for his liver but also reveals how strong the temptation is to resume what he was born to do.

And therein lies the rub. It would be easier to go with the flow of opinion urging Hatton to leave history to pass admiring judgement on an heroic career if it were not for the evidence of how much healthier he lives even when merely contemplating a fight.

Those closest to him report that he has allowed himself only two alcoholic nights out in the past four months and that when he does go out to dinner he happily drinks just orange juice.

That and the daily regime at his health club near Manchester have brought the surplus poundage tumbling off the man who jokingly dubs himself Ricky Fatton. He is down now to within one stone of his fighting weight.

Yet he has travelled this road once before without reaching its arduous end. The last time he got this close to light-welterweight he admitted: 'I can't go through with it. I'm not sure the body can take it.'

This time, however, the itch is proving harder to scratch.

The final test will come shortly, if and when he girds himself for meaningful sparring in addition to strenuous exercise.

Meanwhile, bookings which are described as tentative, have been made for alternate dates at the MEN arena in late November and January.

Whether either is confirmed may depend as much on the television companies as Hatton's state of mind and body.

The Hitman and his associates are expected to hold talks this week which could produce a deal with Channel Five and Primetime cable similar to that which Mick Hennessy secured for his heavyweight contender Tyson Fury to gain public attention on terrestrial TV, followed by pay-per-view screening for future world title fights.

Hatton needs to find a new TV home for his rising stars following the abrupt termination of his Sky Sports contract which he described as 'betrayal.'

He would be reluctant to return to Sky and hesitant about joining the BoxNation subscription channel involving Frank Warren, the promoter with whom he fell out acrimoniously. But neither option can be ruled out, nor the American TV moguls.

A Hitman comeback would excite all the networks and he is teasing them to come to terms with his company while not yet committing to fighting again personally.

If he does, the first fight would be against a journeyman – not a rematch with his former title victim Paulie Malignaggi - by way of preparation for a world championship campaign to follow.

His legions of fans will not care who he meets. They would pack the MEN if he fought Donald Duck, never mind a Mickey Mouse opponent.

And they would flock to Las Vegas in their tens of thousands again if he returned there to seek redemption against Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, the only two men to have beaten him.

Hatton is in a strong negotiating position because he does not need the money. The rich list values Hatton as worth £27 million.

That makes his decision all the more intriguing….and all the more difficult to oppose if he does come back.

Should he take the plunge it will not be for the cash but because he truly believes his body can take the strain of elite prize-fighting once again.

If so, will anyone feel bold enough to argue?

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Jeff Powell: Ricky Hatton fighting fit.. but is comeback a healthy decision? | Mail Online