THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MANCHESTER, England — Ricky Hatton hastily retired again Saturday night following a knockout loss to Vyacheslav Senchenko in the British star’s first fight in more than three years.
"I needed one more fight to see if I had still got it, and I haven’t," said the 34-year-old Hatton, the former light-welterweight champion who dropped to 45-3.
The Briton succumbed to a painful body shot in the ninth round from the Ukrainian welterweight Senchenko in the non-title fight in his hometown.
"A fighter knows and I know it isn’t there anymore," Hatton said. "It’s too many hard fights, I’ve burned the candle at both ends, I’ve put my body through the mire in and out of the ring but it doesn’t matter how hard I train, I couldn’t have done any better."
Hatton fought again 3 1/2 years after being knocked out by Manny Pacquiao, a loss that sent the former two-weight champion into retirement and his life spiraling out control, with depression, personal problems and battles with drink and drugs.
"I’m a happy man tonight," Hatton said. "I don’t feel like putting a knife to my wrists. I have got the answers I needed. I got the opportunity and I got the answers and no matter how upsetting it is, I have got to be a man and say, ‘It is the end of Ricky Hatton."’
An emotional Hatton said he would devote his future to his family and his promotional activities after deciding to call it a day despite having initially suggested he may consider fighting on.
Hatton decided not to return to the ring against an easy opponent and instead opted to take on a credible fighter in the form of the 35-year-old Senchenko.
Senchenko (33-1) met Hatton for the 10-round welterweight fight two months after losing his unbeaten record — and his WBA welterweight title — in a ninth-round loss to Paulie Malignaggi.
Hatton started aggressively without landing anything of note, until a left hook and short right connected with Senchenko.
Although Senchenko, boasting a significant height and reach advantage, landed a body shot early in the second, Hatton looked classy as he evaded a hook to the jaw and landed one to the ribs.
Hatton continued to have success with a succession of left hooks thrown with his entire body weight behind them, but the first signs of tiredness for Hatton crept in during the sixth round.
Senchenko, who had picked up a cut under the left eye, landed a left hook on Hatton in the seventh and landed several powerful shots in the eighth.
Hatton was floored in the ninth by a left to the body that sent him crashing to the floor in agony, and he was in too much pain to rise despite backing from his home crowd.
"I found out tonight it isn’t there no more," Hatton said. "I’m a straight-shooter and I tell the truth. I can look at myself in the mirror and tell myself I did my best, but there is always an excuse to find.
"I got in the best shape I possibly could but if I hadn’t been hit with that body shot I would have just scraped over the line with a points win and I honestly think I would still be telling you all the same thing (about retirement)."