By Rick Reeno
When Ricky Hatton (45-3, 32KOs) was pondering the possibility of a comeback, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer had advised him to take an easier opponent for his first fight back.
Hatton, after three and a half years away from the ring, returned on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena and took on former WBA welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko (33-1, 22KOs). Hatton was ahead on the cards, but he was coming apart in the later rounds and a shot to the liver sent him down for the full count in the ninth. Hatton retired after the contest.
"I think Ricky really gave himself a real challenge with Senchenko. Ricky has not fought in three and a half years, and to pick a guy like that who has a reach advantage, height advantage, a tough guy like that," Schaefer said.
"I felt that if you do a comeback - I think that you could go with a different kind of opponent and we suggested that to him because we have a close working relationship with Ricky and his team. We all know the venue sold out in a few minutes without even knowing the opponent, so it wasn't about the opponent it was about Ricky and his comeback. I felt it was not the right matchup but in typical Ricky Hatton fashion he always challenges himself to the max."
One of the suggested opponents was Michael Katsidis, who was rumored to be the early frontrunner to land the Hatton comeback. Another suggestion, if Hatton wanted a tough fight, was to stage a direct rematch with WBA champion Paulie Malignaggi.
"[Katsidis] was one of our suggestions. And if you are going to go for a tough fight then you might as well go for a world title," Schaefer said.