sport

Hatton ready to take a hit

Ricky Hatton will have no fears over his punch resistance when he makes his highly-anticipated comeback in Manchester this weekend.

Former two-weight world champion Hatton takes on once-beaten Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko in a 10-round welterweight contest on Saturday night, returning to the ring three-and-a-half years on from his last outing.

On that occasion, the 34-year-old fell victim to Manny Pacquiao's blurring fists inside two brutal rounds at Las Vegas' MGM Grand.

A shambolic build-up to the bout under the guidance of Floyd Mayweather Sr saw Hatton floored by sparring partners before the Filipino superstar chillingly rendered him unconscious.

Having overcome a raft of personal problems to launch his comeback, Hatton conceded to feeling apprehensive the first time he stepped through the ropes to spar in preparation from Senchenko.

"It was the biggest test really," he said. "In my first spar I was nervous.

"I put my protector on, put my head guard on, took a deep breath and thought: 'Phew, I didn't think I'd be doing this again'.

"But the first time I got hit on the chin I wanted to knock him out, so that's a positive."

Relentless determination was a hallmark of Hatton's heyday and he believes tapping into the same qualities have been vital in pursuit of the 10st 7lbs welterweight limit, having come close to tipping the scales at 15 stone before a return to gym work over the summer.

"When I started my circuits and it started getting hard, doing my uphill sprints, it would have been dead easy for me to say 'I'd forgotten how hard this lot was, it's not for me', but I didn't," he said.

"Every time a wall's been put in front of me I've knocked it down.

"If it's going to be the comeback I think it's going to be, that's the way it had to be and that's the way it has been."

Over the past year Hatton has donned the trainers' mitts - star pupil Sergey Rabchenko makes the first defence of his European light-middleweight title on the Manchester Arena undercard - and his time in the corner has provided a fresh perspective that he hopes will help refine the rougher edges of a famously all-action fighting style.

Hatton added: "Day in, day out I train my fighters - jab first before you go in, move your head after the combination and stuff like that.

"I can't tell my fighters to do it if I don't do it myself.

"Because I come in the gym in the morning and work with my fighters, it sort of gets my mind racing for my workouts at teatime. I think it's going to help and make me a better fighter.

"I'm a little bit older and a little bit wiser now anyway but you see things from a coaching point of view a little bit differently and I've been able to add it to my own game."