By Danny Winterbottom, ringside
“That was closure for me. I found out tonight I don’t have it anymore” said an emotional, battered and bruised Ricky Hatton after suffering a ninth round stoppage defeat at the hands of underdog Vyacheslav Senchenko in front of 20,000 fans inside the Manchester Arena on Saturday Nov 24.
Hatton, 45-3 (32) declared his intentions to retire for good after a crunching left hook to the ribs, ironically his own trademark shot, dropped him on all fours in the centre of the ring and despite the passionate crowd willing their hero to get to his feet he was unable to shake off the effects of the blow in time to beat referee Victor Laughlin’s count. The end came at 2-52 of round number nine as Senchenko celebrated wildly in front of a shocked audience and ended a career that saw the British boxing legend win world titles in two weight divisions and face the two best P4P fighters of his generation.
Hatton, fighting for the first time since Manny Pacquiao laid him to waste inside two brutal rounds in Las Vegas, started the contest in his customary style of trying to close the distance on Senchenko to land his body attack but found the Ukrainian’s jab almost impossible to slip. In his pomp Hatton was a good combination puncher but from the opening seconds it was apparent something wasn’t right. His timing was way off as he lunged in with swinging hooks that fell well short of their intended target.
Senchenko remained calm in the almost deafening atmosphere and punched accurately with his right hand and left jab as Hatton tried to summon memories of old to cut the ring off and work the body. The former WBA champion however found it almost too easy to escape Hatton’s crude attacks and pick him off at range.
The first left hook to the body from Hatton in round three followed by a three punch combination had the crowd roaring their approval but Senchenko fired a sharp left that got a nod of recognition from the home favourite. Hatton was again way off with crude lunges from the outside and a straight right had him hurt momentarily.
Ricky began the fourth with a bounce in his step as he used feints to draw a lead from Senchenko. The Ukrainian stuck to his boxing well and tagged Hatton with a series of blows as the crowd began to encourage the British boxing legend.
Senchenko had slipped into a groove with his jab by round five as Hatton decided to rush him and rough him up on the ropes. Senchenko was adept at spoiling up close and Hatton struggled to land often enough to worry the visitor.
Marked up around the right eye and breathing heavily in his corner Hatton needed a break through in round six. More Hatton hooks whizzed past the head of Senchenko as the Mancunian looked puzzled that his blows were failing to land and that Senchenko appeared to be the stronger, tougher man in the ring.
A patch of blood appeared on the cheek of Senchenko in round seven but Hatton continued to take hard, flush shots. Ricky had a better second half of the round as he landed with rights and lefts but the jab of Senchenko was the key weapon in the fight.
Hatton’s own frustration’s at the way the contest was going showed in his ring demeanour during round eight. With each wild swing and miss Hatton would curse under his breath, get tied up by the long levers of Senchenko, before more jabs peppered his increasingly swollen face. Hatton, although claiming to be ahead in the contest during the post-fight presser, was becoming more desperate with his shots as it became apparent he needed a knockout to win.
Instead Senchenko stamped his dominance on the contest during a shocking ninth round. As Hatton’s eye closed further still Senchenko rammed home more jabs that began to sicken the former two division champion, then a thudding left hand, during an exchange of punches, ripped into the ribcage of Hatton and he sunk on all fours. The crowd willed their hero to rise once more but years of neglecting his physical condition and perhaps his drastic weight loss in the lead up to this bout rendered him unable to do so to the shock of the Hatton faithful.
As the “Hitman” finally made it to his feet, accompanied by slightly less passionate chants of “There’s only one Ricky Hatton”, he slumped, head down over the top rope as if unable to face the disappointment of the Hatton congregation after Senchenko had put the final nail in the coffin of his career.
The come back from the wilderness years that saw Manchester’s favourite son descend into a life of booze, drugs and depression wasn’t to be but Hatton will always be remembered for the night he lifted the lid on the then M.E.N arena in 2005 when he bludgeoned Kostya Tzsyu into an 11th round retirement.
“I’ve got no complaints” said Hatton later. “The story is well documented but I needed to find out for myself if I could still perform at world level, but I can’t anymore.”
“I could sit here and say I want to fight for world titles but I found out tonight it isn’t there anymore. I like to think I’m a straight talker and I wanted to be able to look myself in the mirror after the fight and I can.”
“Bob Shannon whipped me into fantastic shape but even if I hadn’t been caught with that body shot I would be telling you the same thing. A fighter knows when he doesn’t have it anymore. I knew in there.”
Scott Quigg, 25-0-1, produced the performance of the night in halting world class super bantamweight Rendall Munroe, 24-3-1, with body shots in round six to retain his British 8st 10lbs belt and claim the vacant WBA interim world title.
Quigg instigated a body attack early in the contest, took his time to see what Munroe had to offer and then clinically despatched a man that had fought Toshiaki Nishioka for the world crown in Japan.
The eagerly anticipated bout had become even more intriguing after a clash of heads halted their first meeting back in June as the contest was evenly poised.
Quigg, 24, made it clear this time around who the best man was in emphatic style. A fast combination from the “Young fighter of the year” finished with a crunching left to the ribcage of the 32-year-old Birmingham native forcing him to take a knee. Munroe shot a grimaced look over to his corner before gamely raising to his feet. Quigg sensed the finish was on and roared into his opponent with abandon. Another body blow, this time a right down the middle, took everything away from Munroe and ended the bout there and then. The end came at 2-37
Munroe had his moments in the contest but his lack of punching power allowed Quigg to have the confidence to let his hands go. Munroe was busy, letting shots go in combination, but never troubled the Bury man who remained composed throughout before delivering a clinical finish. A world title shot must now be close for the likeable and unbeaten Quigg.
Martin Murray, 25-0 (11), proved leagues above Jorge Navarro as he halted the outgunned Venezuelan in six one sided rounds for the vacant WBA interim world middleweight crown and can now pursue a dream showdown with recognised divisional number one Sergio Martinez.
Murray dropped Navarro, who came into the contest with an impressive looking 12-0 (10) record, with a counter right in the opening stanza. The St Helens man let his shots go in an attempt to force the early stoppage but Navarro weathered the storm and survived the round.
Despite Navarro sporting a glossy record closer inspection revealed he had beaten nobody
of note and Murray, who fought out a draw in Germany with then world champion Felix Sturm, was toying with him.
Just as the contest looked to be drifting towards a point’s decision for Murray he upped the pace, had his man going with a right hand before a repeat dose dropped Navarro. Murray was determined to end the contest there and then and put everything into his follow up attack. With Navarro trapped on the ropes in his own corner Murray landed several unanswered blows forcing referee Giuseppe Quattroni to halt the contest just as the towel from the Venezuelan’s corner floated into the ring. Official time was 2-37
Hatton trained Sergey Rabchenko,22-0 (16), looked extremely fortunate to hold onto his European light middleweight title and claim the ludicrous vacant WBC Silver title with a split decision victory over Frenchman Cedric Vitu, 35-1.
Judge Mark Green seemed to have carded the correct score for my eyes with a 115-114 verdict for Vitu. However he was overruled by John Keane and Victor Laughlin who were in agreement, scoring 116-113 for the champion.
Vitu, from Creil, France utilised his southpaw stance to good effect as he seemingly out boxed a ponderous champion who plodded forward without too much thought in the opening rounds.
Rabchenko had the much harder punch but was unable to pin down the slippery challenger long enough to do a great deal of damage. He did have success to the body of Vitu but the overall impression was that the Frenchman was extremely unfortunate not to take home the spoils of victory.
Other undercard results:
Gary Buckland WTKO 8 Stephen Foster Jnr (British super featherweight title)
Adam Etches WTKO 2 Roman Dzhuman (8 three’s middleweight)
James “Jazza” Dickens WPTS 8 Franklin Varela (super bantamweight)