By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
BOB Shannon will discover the answer to one of boxing’s biggest questions when Ricky Hatton is hit for the first time on Saturday.
Shannon is the man ‘The Hitman’ has chosen to guide him through his comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko at the Manchester Arena.
It will be the 34-year-old Hatton’s first ring appearance for more than three years after his decision to come out of retirement.
However, can he return to the top after such a long break?
Head trainer Shannon said: “We won’t know until he gets hit with the first big shot how he will react.”
Shannon shares the concerns of many boxing fans who are worried about Hatton being hurt because of his self-proclaimed intention to redeem himself.
The Manchester welterweight still believes he let his army of fans down with his X-rated KO at the hands of Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in May 2009. That was one of only two defeats he has suffered in a 47-fight career, the other being inflicted by undefeated superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Shannon said: “Of course I worry about that. Anybody would because, let’s be honest, no-one is going to know until that first bell goes.
“He’s a guy who wants to redeem himself and show all his fans, the boxing public and his family that he’s still got something left.”
Shannon, who used to train Hatton’s brother Matthew, added: “I think, having trained him, that he’s still got something left.
“I think he wants to go out on a win. He lost those two fights and he’s had three and a half years to think about it.
“You can look back on things and think ‘if only’ – and he’s thought about all that for three and a half years.
“He’s had a training camp where he feels comfortable and if he gets beat, he can’t blame anyone.
“The training has been right, the sparring has been right and he can say I got beat by the better man on the night.
“He can’t say that with the other fights because a lot of things went wrong in camp. He wants to see how good is he now.
“The only excuse he can have if it does go wrong is that he’s probably left it too late. He left the comeback too late.”
Senchenko is a former WBA welterweight champion who, at 35, believes he can overcome Hatton and have another crack at a world title.
Shannon said: “It’s like going in the lion’s den. Ricky’s going in against a sharp fighter – someone who wants to redeem himself and be world champion again.
“I think we’re going to see that exciting Ricky Hatton again and no-one wants to change that.
“I would never want to change the way Ricky fights.
“All I’ve got to do is improve the way he fights. All of the questions will be answered on this night.”
THE Hatton-Senchenko fight will be screened live on Saturday on Primetime (ch498 on Sky). Details on primetimeboxing.co.uk