Ricky Hatton - 'There's not a chance this will fail'
Ricky Hatton's career in the ring looked to have ended in 2009 when he suffered his second professional defeat - knocked out in two devastating rounds by Manny Pacquaio. After three-and-a-half troubled years in the wilderness, he is set to fight Vyacheslav Senchenko on 24 November. He spoke to Orange about his return to the ring, battle with depression and hopes for the future...
The most obvious question is why the comeback?
It's not about the money, it really isn't. And it's not about the ego as I think I'm the least egotistical person I know. I could easily be sitting on the beach somewhere. I know it seems crazy to a lot of people, but you need to have a bit of a screw loose to get hit in the face for a living. But those people don't have someone sitting on their shoulder like I do. I needed to come back and it's more than a comeback - it's like redemption. I want my kids to look at me and for people to say "you know what, your dad was a hell of a fighter". It's about making people proud.
Your time out of the ring has not been easy has it?
I'm embarrassed by it. I was drinking a lot. Not every night heavily but it got to a point where it was quite regular to drink so much I couldn't stand or speak. I was having a lot of memory loss during that time as well. I don't remember taking drugs for example, which was well publicised, and I'm not sure the booze was the real problem. It made things worse but the depression was the big problem. I would break down in tears and just randomly tell people down the pub, "I've got problems you know". It was hard to admit the depression as I'm meant to be this tough guy in the ring. But it got to the stage where I'd wake up with a knife in my hand in the morning on the sofa. I don't think I had the guts to go through with it thankfully.
So how are you now - happy?
Yeah, I am. It's the best I've felt for a long time both in and out of the ring.
So what brought you out of it?
A lot of different things. The birth of my daughter Mille Meg, who's one now, was a big thing. Plus working with the fighters I train got me thinking about getting back in shape. But I'd hit rock bottom and checked into the Priory, which was key, and even now I've got a psychiatrist's number if I need someone to talk to.
How long was the battle with depression?
If I'm honest, probably since the Floyd Mayweather defeat in 2009. I knew I wasn't right then and the depression was probably like the size of a two-pence piece then. It got bigger and bigger to the point that it was out of control. And then lots of stuff went wrong. I fell out with my old trainer Billy Graham, and that ended up in court. I had some problems with my family but I guess doesn't everyone? Then there was the defeat to Mayweather and then Manny Pacquaio.
What sort of shape are you in returning to the ring?
This is the best I've felt since the Kostya Tszyu fight in 2005, which is probably when I was at my best. That burning desire's back in my belly. I know I could still fail but I've sorted myself out physically and mentally, so whatever happens it will be a success.
I take it you don't expect to lose, and that this won't be a one-off?
No, you're right there. I want another chance at Mayweather and Pacquaio, to fight some of the British boys as well like Amir Khan and Kell Brook. I want to be a world champion again, that's all part of the plan. There's not a chance this will fail - I'm going to blow people's heads off.
Are there any bad bits about returning to the ring?
Yeah, the early morning starts for those runs. You never get used to that. And I don't get to take my son Campbell to Manchester City as much as I like to - I'm a season ticket holder. But I'm not complaining. All I've ever wanted to do in life is box, listen to Oasis and support Man City. I've become world champion, I'm a Man City season ticket holder and I know the Gallagher brothers. I've got to live my dream.
Do you remember when you were first hooked by boxing?
I must have been 11, the same age as my son now. I remember well being hit for the first time. You either like it or hate it but I loved it. Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be for Campbell.
You grew up on some impressive fighters. Who was your favourite?
I was lucky enough to be getting into boxing in an era when Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Michael Watson were at their peak. Benn was probably my favourite and I saw his fight against Eubank when I was 14 I think. He was so explosive and that was the type of fighter that I wanted to be and that I think I went on to be.