When Ricky Hatton returns to the ring for his exhibition with Marco Antonio Barrera, just 10 years after the night he fought as a professional for the 48th and final time, he will be fighting to honor the memory of the cousin who died. committed suicide while battling depression.
Hatton’s comeback against Vyacheslav Senchenko in November 2012 owes much to the demons that had left him suicidal and helped halt the decline in his mental health. Despite being arrested that night at Manchester Arena, Hatton ended one of the finest careers in British boxing, and he hopes the progress he continues to make can help others to avoid the tragic fate of his cousin Stephen Nightingale.
“I lost my cousin for mental health reasons – he hung himself [aged 35], because of Covid,” Hatton told talkSPORT. “It was very upsetting.
“When the offer [to fight Mexico’s Barrera in an exhibition] come on – it’s been a tough time for people with mental health [issues] – mental health came to the fore, and we had the lockdowns, and this and that.
“People know what position I was in and how I suffered from it, so if I can put on a show with Marco like I expect, I think it’s going to inspire people. It will not only have been good for my well-being, but also for the well-being of many other people.
“[The exhibition] was offered to me when the Covid was still bad, and mental health – I suffer from my mental health – [was being tested].
“Telling people, ‘We’ve been to Covid; we have all been confined; we couldn’t do it; we have lost family to Covid; we have lost friends to Covid; we’ve lost friends to mental health”… What a way to tell people, “Remember how Ricky was a few years ago; look at what you can do when you put your mind to it, to change things”. It was another incentive.
Against Ukrainian Senchenko, Hatton was 34 and coming back from three and a half years of inactivity dating back to May 2009 in Las Vegas, where the great Manny Pacquiao had stopped him so destructively in two rounds.
How to watch Paul vs Silva: confirmed pay-per-view price, TV channel and more
Jake Paul vs Anderson Silva UK start time, undercard and how to follow the fight
Taylor vs Carabajal LIVE: Start time, undercard and how to watch the Bray Bomber fight
Askren Reveals Bizarre Contract Paul Asked Him To Sign Before Boxing Fight
Lomachenko lost his second pro fight to a man who drove for Uber in his spare time
Jake Paul and Anderson Silva squat in bizarre final showdown… with UFC legend GSP
Although he established himself among the greatest of all welterweights and perhaps became Britain’s most popular fighter, he found the nature of that defeat and the end of his career so difficult to manage that he had fallen into a damaging cycle of alcoholism and depression, and experimented with cocaine.
Hatton and those he is closest to acknowledging, the trigger for his depression came when he suffered his first loss, to Floyd Mayweather in December 2007, but the acrimonious separation from his longtime coach Billy Graham, the defeat against Pacquiao and then the breakdown of the relationship with his parents further damaged his fragile state of mind.
Before announcing his return, in September 2012 Hatton’s weight had risen to 15th and he had also visited The Priory and Sporting Chance. His comeback was born out of convincing himself that he needed “redemption” for the life he had lived since his loss to Pacquiao, and to finally give him a belated sense of peace.
“I’m under no illusions, my best days are behind me,” Hatton continued. “His [almost] ten years to the day. It’s incredible.
“One, hear the roar of the crowd, [two] share the ring with Marco Antonio Barrera, [and three] in this time of mental health and Covid, where everyone is depressed, if it inspires a few people with weight issues [laughs] – I moved a load of wood.
“I have mental health issues, and I got back in shape and in shape, and I fight in the arena. If a person says, “Jesus Christ, look at what Ricky was like a few years ago and look at him now,” it will have been for good.
At rock bottom, before he returned, Hatton was found sobbing by his then-partner, Jennifer, in a darkened room, clutching a knife to his wrist. Even in the build-up to his fight with Senchenko, he cut a much more melancholic and introspective figure than the lively one that proved so entertaining throughout the considerable access granted before fighting Mayweather and Pacquiao.
He first tried to fight back in 2010, but after returning to the gym and still reaching his lowest level, he found he lacked the drive he needed. Later that year he went to rehab in an attempt to recover from “severe depression” and a “drinking problem”, contributing to the withdrawal of his boxing license by the British Boxing Board of Control.
“I felt like I would let my family, my fans and everyone else down,” he recalled. “I needed to come back, not carry on and fight after fight after fight after fight. I needed to come back to redeem myself and prove myself, and reassure everyone, ‘I’m in a good place, and no matter how bad things get, look what you can do if you get there. hold’.”
When Hatton’s friend Tyson Fury – an equally positive figure in the growing recognition of people struggling with their mental health – launched his own comeback in 2018 after battling obesity, alcohol abuse and cocaine, bipolar disorder and suicidal thoughts, there were times when he used Hatton’s gym. Hatton even became an influential figure in his roster under Ben Davison until late 2019 when Fury replaced Davison with SugarHill Steward of the Kronk.
“I put a thing on my Instagram, ‘Not having my best day, but we gotta keep going,'” Hatton said, speaking in 2020. “Do you know who called me? Tyson Fury. Within 10 mins.
“He said, ‘Hiya Rick, what’s wrong with you? You’re right?’
“It’s the man, Tyson. Just to make sure I was okay.