There are some stories that we desperately want to happen no matter how impossible or improbable the happy ending is. From hoping Peyton Manning comes back to win the Super Bowl, the Cubs winning the World Series or Ricky Hatton making a grand comeback and shocking the world once again, we just want to have the storybook ending or see the miracle happen.
And that is when reality slaps us in the face hard and wakes us up to the facts.
On Saturday night in a sold-out Manchester Arena in Lancashire, United Kingdom, the comeback of Ricky Hatton ended before it could get going as the pride of Manchester was knocked out in the ninth round by a body shot from Vyacheslav Senchenko. After the fight, “The Hitman” announced his retirement from the sport of boxing as he battled back the tears.
In retrospect, the comeback was a miracle in itself as Hatton had gone down a path of self-destruction that left fans and family members terrified. From late-night drinking binges, cocaine-fueled parties, bouts of suicidal thoughts and even sleeping with a knife under his bed, we were all scared that the man whom we grew up to love was going to die a tragic death. However thanks to his daughter, his girlfriend and the rest of his family, Hatton was able to lose the excess weight as he cleared his head and his body.
It was then when we learned that he was planning a comeback and that he wanted to give it one more go of it. So we waited with baited breath and began to hope and pray that “The Hitman” would come back and continue to wow us all in the ring.
I was one of those men who loved Hatton’s fighting tenacity, his charming demeanor and his passionate relationship with the fans of England. I wanted this relationship to work and for Hatton to make one more spectacular run.
But the problem is that despite all the optimism and hope, the fact was that Hatton’s comeback was flawed to begin with. In his prime Hatton lacked a good jab, was never a technical fighter and at 147 pounds, he wasn't the power puncher that he was when he fought one weight class lower.
And after nearly four years away, you could see that he didn't have the hand or foot speed that is necessary to take on a very durable and talented fight in the form of Vyacheslav Senchenko.
"I haven't got it any more. I had a good cry. But I'm a happy man. I don't feel like killing myself, I don't feel like slitting my wrists. I'm not going to put my loved ones through that again. I've put my demons to bed." Hatton cried during the post-fight press conference.
This is where the real story begins; where Ricky Hatton goes from here as his boxing career is finally done. In many ways he has the ideal post boxing life as he has two beautiful children, money in the bank, a girlfriend whom loves and supports him and a passionate fanbase that would follow him all over the earth. It seems that to anyone looking from the outside, “The Hitman” has the golden ticket and should be cashing it in whenever he pleases.
But that is the part that non-athletes don’t understand. For someone who was at the pinnacle of his sport, there are still demons lurking about as well as the wear and tear of fighting 48 times in a manner that was thrilling and grueling. We saw earlier this past year retired NFL legend Junior Seau kill himself as he was unable to handle life without football. Can Ricky Hatton beat back those demons and live a prosperous life? Or will we see another tragic ending?
Count me for hoping that Hatton’s story reads “And he lived happily, ever after.”
You can listen to Chris Connor every Friday night from 11 to 1 a.m. ET as the executive producer and host of LAST CALL radio show on Cyberstationusa.com.