by Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
RICKY HATTON officially announces his ring comeback on Friday ahead of a big fight in Manchester in November.
A new, slimline Hatton stepped up his gym work yesterday ready to come out of retirement in front of a sell-out crowd at the MEN Arena.
Starsport exclusively revealed last month that the Hitman was contemplating a return to action and all systems are now go for the former two-weight world champ.
He will announce his return at a press conference on Friday, with a Team Hatton insider revealing: “Yes, he definitely is planning a comeback.
“He is certainly training hard and has a real buzz about him.
Everything is now geared to a return to the ring.”
Hatton is a promoter and trainer and the source added: “Working with his stable of young boxers has really reignited his enthusiasm.”
Negotiations are underway for a November 24 date at the MEN Arena, where Hatton regularly drew capacity crowds.
Hatton, who will be 34 next month, has not fought since his X-rated second-round KO at the hands Manny Pacquiao in 2009.
He has repeatedly said he feels he let down his travelling army of fans with that display and, since retiring in July 2011, has always harboured thoughts of a return.
Now he has lost almost three stones and regulars at his gym in Hyde, Manchester, have nothing but praise for his fitness and enthusiasm.
Negotiations are at an advanced stage with Hatton’s team hoping to secure the venue and opponent for a comeback fight very shortly.
WBA welterweight champ Paulie Malignaggi was originally top of their list and the New Yorker has already challenged Hatton – but that bout cannot take place until 2013.
Malignaggi, who lost to Hatton in 2008, defends his title against Pablo Cesar Cano next month and that has ruled him out as the Hitman’s fi rst opponent.
But if Hatton can come through his first fight in more than three years, he would look to take on the winner of the Malignaggi-Cano bout.
He could face WBF world welterweight belt holder Lovemore Ndou.
The Australia-based South African, 41, was due to face Hatton five years ago.
He was the mandatory challenger for Hatton’s IBF light-welterweight title but the Mancunian gave it up to face Mexican Jose Luis Castillo.
Ndou, the WBF world welterweight title holder, said: “I have unfinished business with Hatton because he gave up his title instead of facing me.”