By Keith Idec
It’s obviously no coincidence Ricky Hatton chose Vyacheslav Senchenko as the opponent for his comeback fight Saturday night in Manchester, England.
It’ll be easy to compare Paulie Malignaggi’s impressive performance against Senchenko with how Hatton fares against the former welterweight champion and build momentum toward a Hatton-Malignaggi rematch.
Hatton (45-2, 32 KOs) soundly defeated Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KOs) in their November 2008 bout in Las Vegas, but Malignaggi maintains he was improperly prepared by former trainer Buddy McGirt for that fight and has since recorded significant victories over Juan Diaz and Senchenko (32-1, 21 KOs). Malignaggi won the WBA welterweight championship from Senchenko, too, so a Malignaggi rematch makes plenty of sense for the 34-year-old Hatton.
“That would be the easiest [fight] to make,” Hatton said. “I believe that I picked Senchenko because I would like to think that [if I beat him] I would go straight to the top 10 [welterweight rankings] of all the governing bodies.
“But I would say the Malignaggi one is obviously the easiest one to make because of the history — me and Paulie have fought before — and also, he’s with Golden Boy and the relationship I have with Golden Boy, that would be the easiest one to make. But if I perform like I can do, I want to go straight back in there, fighting for a title.”
Malignaggi would love to fight Hatton again and a rematch appears to be a perfect fit for Barclays Center in Malignaggi’s native Brooklyn. Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Malignaggi and works with Hatton, has an exclusive promotional agreement with Barclays Center and shouldn’t have any trouble fitting their rematch into its schedule for sometime during the first half of 2013.
“I have no problem to come fight in New York,” said Hatton, whose comeback bout against Senchenko will be broadcast by Showtime at 5 p.m. ET/PT. “To be honest with you, I always relish a challenge. My fans follow me all over the world. Wherever they go, they take over the place. And I know New York fight fans are very, very passionate and very knowledgeable.
“I boxed at Madison Square Garden in my second professional fight, when [Naseem Hamed] fought Kevin Kelley all them years ago [in December 1997]. That is a goal, to be in New York, and appear on the top of the bill, so yeah, I look forward to that.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.