International boxing fight
Hatton vs Senchenko 00:15
MANCHESTER - Ricky Hatton admits he will struggle to keep his emotions in check when he returns to the ring against Vyacheslav Senchenko on Saturday.
Former two-weight world champion Hatton, 34, is back after a three-and-a-half year absence from the ring.
“It will be a very emotional night for me,” said the Manchester boxer at the final pre-fight news conference, which Ukrainian Senchenko did not attend. “I’ve got so much tension and anger I want to throw at Senchenko.”
Hatton, who last fought in May 2009, when he was knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in two rounds, added: “The ring walk is when you’ve got to hold your nerves together.
“It’s when you start thinking of your family and what you’ve been through to get to this point.
“And this time I’ve got a few more things to think about - how I let everyone down, how I can redeem myself.
“All these things will go through my head and I’ve got to keep that tension inside and control it.
“In my two biggest fights, against Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather [who beat Hatton in 2007], I messed up by being too aggressive, too over-eager, trying to jump all over them too quickly.
“I’ve got to channel all that fury and anger in a positive way. I can’t throw it at Senchenko like I did against Manny Pacquiao, it’s got to be controlled, there has to be a game-plan.”
In September, Hatton announced he was coming out of retirement in a bid for “redemption” following a period of depression and substance abuse. Some critics questioned his motives and whether he could expect to be anything like the fighter he was at his peak but Hatton claimed he would return a better fighter.
“The desire is greater now than when I won the world title from Kostya Tszyu in 2005,” said Hatton, who has 45 wins from 47 professional fights.
“You watch me go on Saturday night, I’ll really turn the clock back.”
Hatton said he had not received an explanation as to why Senchenko failed to show up at Thursday’s news conference but was unfazed by his absence.
“Maybe it’s a bit of mind games and it would have been nice to see my opponent before the fight, assess his height, his size, how he’s made the weight,” said Hatton.
“But it can wait until the weigh-in, it’s really nothing to me.”
Senchenko has one defeat from 33 fights as a professional, the 35-year-old losing his WBA welterweight title to American Paulie Malignaggi in April.
Malignaggi was stopped by Hatton in Las Vegas in 2008, in what was the Englishman’s penultimate fight before announcing his retirement. And while Senchenko’s record sounds impressive, the majority of his fights have taken place in his home town of Donetsk and he has fought outside Ukraine on only three occasions, the last in 2006.
However, Hatton’s trainer Bob Shannon says Senchenko is no soft touch and will test his charge “to the limit”.
“Senchenko works off the jab, he stands very tall, he’s the worst opponent you could have picked really,” Shannon told BBC Sport.
“Ricky knows he’s up against it, this guy is really tough, but he will answer all the questions: Has he still got it? Does he still want it? Can he take a punch?
“That’s why Ricky wanted this fight. I said to him: ‘You need to be tested, but not this much.’ But Ricky said: ‘I’ve got to prove to myself I’ve still got it. If I can’t beat him, I’m never going to beat the Floyd Mayweathers or Amir Khans.”