Boxing Champions – Should They Come Back?
Ricky Hatton’s declared intention to make a comeback raises the question of whether fighters should ever return to the ring. Most fans say no and they are joined by insiders like promoter Frank Warren. Then suddenly Ricky’s dad gets into the argument. .. in a big way.
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The history of boxing comebacks is not encouraging. Of course the circumstances make a difference. When Ali made a comeback from his enforced absence he was still young and still a great fighter.
Similarly when Mike Tyson first came back after prison, he still had plenty in the tank. The greatest one of course is George Foreman who came back 10 years after Ali beat him the jungle – and became the oldest heavyweight champion. But George is a one off, a dedicated trainer who knew how to choose a game plan and stick to it.
Then there’s Evander Holyfield. What can you say? He’s seriously into stay-ons, not comebacks.
Ricky Hatton has been away from the ring for three years and they haven’t been good years. Drink, drugs and depression have clouded his life. But now he says he’s clean, misses boxing and wants to put the record straight about how great a fighter he was – or more importantly – is.
Ricky doesn’t want to be remembered by his kids as the fighter who was slaughtered by Manny Pacquiao in two rounds and ended up with he is eyes closed on the canvas.
Fighters do find a huge hole in their lives after they finish. It’s probably worse for them than footballers, cricketers or athletes because boxing is a dominating, domineering profession. The gym routine is obsessive and the very fact that they can still do the gym makes the loss even harder. So near – and yet so far – from the real thing.
Nobody has been closer to Ricky – personally and professionally – than his father Ray. So when Ricky told him he was making a comeback you can be sure Ray had plenty to say. Not in an encouraging way. So much so that a fight developed in the car park outside Ricky’s gym in Hyde, Manchester. This was serious, the police were called and Ray was arrested.
When a father who has been so supportive, feels like that, you have to say, “Think again Ricky.”
During his great career, a two weight world champion, Ricky Hatton was never a devoted trainer. His weight shot up between fights as he relaxed, ate and drank too much then had to use desperate measures to get back into shape.
As Frank Warren said, “At 33 Ricky isn’t going to get any better, he should stay away.”
You will be remembered as a great world champion Ricky. Manchester does respect you. You don’t need this.