By Jake Donovan
Former lineal super lightweight champion Ricky Hatton officially announced his return to the ring during a press conference held in his Manchester hometown Friday morning.
The news was hardly earth-shattering, as the whispers began months ago, with pieces added to the puzzle as time went on. Speculation turned to anticipation earlier in the week when Hatton’s promotional company informed the media of the upcoming press session.
"Why am I coming back? It's been well documented what's happened to me since the last time I've been in a boxing ring,” Hatton said to the media on hand, speaking in reference to his battle with depression during his time spent away from the ring. "I've started looking after myself a bit better and getting fitter and that's how it started.”
Hatton (45-2, 32KO) will officially return to the ring on November 24 in Manchester. The fight will take place exactly 4 ½ years to the day of his last hometown showcase, a 12-round win over Juan Lazcano in May 2008.
No opponent has yet been announced. While a relatively soft touch is expected for his first rust shaker, the intention is to move back into the world title picture as quickly as possible.
“I don't want to be fighting at four or six-round levels - I want to fight for world titles,” said Hatton, whose four-year run as lineal super lightweight king ended in violent fashion when he was knocked out in two rounds by Manny Pacquiao in May ‘09. “It's about more than money, this comeback. People say nice things about me but they don't know what's been going on in between my ears."
The loss to Pacquiao was just the second of his career, with both defeats coming against the two best fighters of his generation – Floyd Mayweather also stretched the Mancunian in 10 rounds in their Dec. ’07 event in Las Vegas.
Hatton retained his status as super lightweight king after the Mayweather fight since it took place at the welterweight limit. The wildly popular Brit made five successful defenses of the lineal crown, which he won back in June ’05 with a career-defining 11th round corner stoppage win over Kostya Tszyu.
His reign came to an abrupt end with the loss to Pacquiao, in which he was floored three times and frozen stiff on the canvas when the bout was waved off at the end of the second round. The bout was his last, having sat on the sidelines for the past three-plus years while watching his promotional company grow into a dominant presence in the UK boxing scene.
Still, neither the loss nor the manner in which he exited the sport felt right. With that came Friday’s announcement that there is still plenty of fight left in his soul.
"I didn't want my career to end that way,” Hatton stated, for those questioning his motive to return to the ring, where he will be 34 by the time his comeback fight rolls around. “It put me into retirement, which I never wanted to do. The manner of that defeat put me into some things which have been well documented...my life turned to mush.
"I got back into promoting which I loved - but it didn't quite fill the void. I got a huge buzz getting opportunities for my fighters and I was in the gym every day of the week passing on the knowledge - but it didn't fill the gap."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox