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New-look Hatton ready to fight again
Ricky Hatton is hopeful his tale of personal redemption has unified fans and critics alike ahead of his boxing return on Saturday night.
Hatton last stepped through the ropes three and a half years ago, when a two-round demolition inflicted by pound-for-pound superstar Manny Pacquiao left him brutally knocked out and mentally shattered. Now he is ready to take on Ukrainian welterweight Vyacheslav Senchenko before an adoring public at the Manchester Arena.
"I'm excited, nervous, angry - all those things," he told Press Association Sport. "I'm back to redeem myself, to make people proud of me again."
A well-documented struggle with drink, drugs and weight gain followed his defeat to Pacquiao and, as his once-close family ties broke down amid the strain, the 34-year-old's thoughts turned darkly towards suicide.
But since feeling the itch to embark upon a ring return, a familiar and often misguided urge for many of the sport's illustrious names, Hatton has painstakingly shed almost four-and-a-half stone while based at his own Hyde gym under the watchful eye of veteran Manchester trainer Bob Shannon.
As with the excess poundage, the psychological demons have seemingly melted away and the former two-weight world champion is eyeing another memorable triumph against once-beaten Senchenko on Saturday night - a prospect that seemed improbable mere months ago.
The venue became a second home to Hatton, culminating in a defining victory over Kostya Tszyu to snatch the IBF light-welterweight crown in June 2005, and his gym walls remain emblazoned with reminders of such memorable nights.
He added: "I feel there's so many people I let down over a three-year period.
"If you'd have seen me hobbling around Manchester around the 15-stone mark, drunk at every opportunity, and you see me now - physically and mentally in condition...
"I think even a Ricky Hatton critic would say 'it's nice to see he's come back as he has and fair play to him'."