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Boxing Betting: Hatton no good thing on his return to the ring

A sight not many want to see this weekend

"But he is still taking a huge step into the unknown, and backing him to beat Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko at odds as tight as 1.3130/100 looks far too big a risk."

Ralph Ellis isn't convinced that Ricky Hatton's return to boxing will be a successful one, and it could be that his comeback ends before it even begins on Saturday night...

Comebacks were all very well for Frank Sinatra - but there aren't too many top sportsmen who make a success out of ending their retirement. I still cringe thinking of watching Bjorn Borg with his wooden racquet getting wiped away in the first round in Monte Carlo. And Michael Schumacher's return to be a journeyman Formula One driver in the sport he once ruled supreme has been almost embarrassing.

They may get back on stage, like Ol' Blue Eyes singing Fly Me To The Moon, but it too often ends up that Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered is the signature tune.

That's all the more true in boxing. OK, I hear you telling me that George Foreman won the WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles after 10 years outside the ring, but he's very much the exception to the rule.

Right back to 1949, when Joe Louis came out of retirement at the age of 36 to try to settle a tax bill worth half a million dollars, and ended getting knocked out by Rocky Marciano, there are too many stories that are more sad than glorious. Even those like Oscar de la Hoye, who returned with a win, then lost his two big fights against Floyd Mayweather Junior and Manny Pacquiao.

So the sight of Ricky Hatton getting ready to lace on his gloves again this Saturday fills me with worry. I know he has done and said all the right things since announcing his return. I know he looks superbly fit, in far better condition than any of the last fights before he stepped away from the sport. And I know he has got his head into a better place to deal with his demons.

But he is still taking a huge step into the unknown, and backing him to beat Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko at odds as tight as 1.3130/100 looks far too big a risk.

Hatton has been getting plenty of positive publicity in the build up, but if there's one sport where you have to beware the hype then it's boxing. Senchenko is coming to the contest as very much more than a convenient punchbag designed to make Manchester's favourite fighter look good.

At 35 he suffered the first defeat of a 33-fight career when he lost in the ninth round to Paul Malignaggi back in April. He's had time to recover from that, and to work on what went wrong. Known as an excellent technical boxer, he has fought in front of 50,000 fans in Donetsk and insists he's not scared of 20,000 passionate fans in the MEN Arena.

We scored last week with a back to lay bet on Wladimir Klitschko's opponent Mariusz Wach. I think the same tactic could be a winner again, even if the price of 4.47/2 for Senchenko is nowhere near as generous. This fight will not be a formality.

The bottom line is that it is now nearer to four years than three since Hatton was put on his back in the second round in Las Vegas by Pacquiao. If he'd spent that time living cleanly it would still be tough to return to sport's most brutal game, but with well publicised problems dealing with drink, drugs and depression in the meantime, it is a huge ask to step back into the ring at the top of his form.

A Hatton comeback would be a wonderful success story. I just worry that, to use another Sinatra song, it might all just be An Impossible Dream.


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21 November 2012

Boxing

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