sport

Hatton had to convince Jennifer

Ricky Hatton admits girlfriend Jennifer Dooley took a lot of convincing that his return to the boxing ring was a good idea.

The 34-year-old former two-weight world champion will contest his first fight in three and a half years at Manchester Arena on Saturday night when he takes on Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in a sell-out welterweight bout.

Hatton's personal troubles since his brutal 2009 defeat by Manny Pacquiao have been well documented as battles with spiralling weight, drink, drugs and depression left him suicidal.

He began to turn things around six months ago before contemplating a return to the ring, something Dooley worried would put his recovery at risk.

Hatton said: "Jennifer was the hardest one to convince. People have said, 'Did boxing save your life, Ricky?' But I'd got myself together mentally before I even mentioned a comeback.

"I started losing all the weight and looking after myself. Everybody was saying, 'What's he up to fatty there, he's lost all this weight, he must be making a comeback', but the thought at the time hadn't even crossed my mind.

"I said to Jen the first day, 'I'm thinking of giving it another go', and Jennifer went, 'Oh Rick, what are you doing, you're all right now, why do you want to put it in jeopardy again'?

"When I explained it to her I said: 'You've seen more than most what I've been through, how bad it was, you coming downstairs in the morning and I'm having a nervous breakdown with a knife to my wrist. You know why I have to come back. It's hurt me that I've let myself down.'

"I've got to do this for the sake of my life, not for my career, for my life. I know there's going to be a few critics out there. But just give me the chance."

Senchenko decided not to show up for yesterday's head-to-head press conference, but if he had been there he would have heard Hatton describe himself as at his "meanest and most ferocious".

He added: "Seven years ago I beat Kostya Tszyu at the Manchester Arena and I was at my hungriest because I had a dream of becoming world champion but the desire I have for this fight is way beyond becoming a world champion.

"All those world titles mean nothing to me. I'm here to right the wrongs I've done. I've let a lot of people down.

"I know you won't believe me, after burning the candle at both ends, the second-round defeat against Manny Pacquiao, no way can he come back the same. Well I won't come back the same, I'm going to come back better."