• Ricky Hatton v Vyacheslav Senchenko

Hatton's return ends in tears after 9th-round stoppage

ESPN staff
November 24, 2012 « Lennon threatens to quit Celtic after spat with fan | Chartbeat test »

Ricky Hatton made an emotional return to the ring on Saturday night, but he looked a pale imitation of his former self as he suffered a ninth-round stoppage against Vyacheslav Senchenko. At the time of the stoppage the judges had him 78-74 77-76 77-76 ahead, but he was fading fast.

Hatton had not traded punches in competitive fashion since a brutal second-round knockout against Manny Pacquiao in 2009. Upon his return his fitness stood up to the test but he struggled for timing and intensity, eventually succumbing to a body shot that floored him in the ninth.

Hatton was greeted by a passionate roar of support at the Manchester Arena, as concern for his welfare briefly became eclipsed by pure exhilaration at a sight many never thought they would see again.

Standing opposite Hatton was a fellow former world champion in Senchenko, a man who only lost his belt in April against Paulie Malignaggi. Boasting a five-inch reach advantage but not blessed with heavy knockout power, the Ukrainian was tailor-made to test the modern-day Ricky Hatton.

Senchenko ignited the already-amped crowd by donning a Manchester United shirt in front of City supporter Hatton, but it was the Brit who started faster. Pressing the action, Hatton landed a nice jab and began employing the hook to the body, although Senchenko's own jab was proving accurate.

The plan for Hatton was to push his man against the ropes and go to work, although the timing was not completely there in the opening two rounds. The times he did land heavy, Senchenko opened his arms to gesture that nothing was hurting.

As they advanced to the fourth, Hatton landed the more telling shots - one notable hook exciting the home crowd, but he continued to eat plenty on his way in. A ragged fifth round certainly went to the Ukrainian, and questions began to be raised over Hatton's ability to go the full ten rounds.

By the seventh Senchenko was cut and Hatton bruised, with the Ukrainian growing in confidence as every round passed. They advanced to the penultimate stanza, with Hatton fading all the time, and it ended in tears as one big body shot - so often Hatton's trademark - inflicted the Brit's first ever defeat in England.

Martin Murray could be heading for a showdown with WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez after he forced the retirement of Jorge Navarro. Murray finished the mismatched Navarro in the sixth round to claim the interim WBA crown, and could now meet Martinez on April 27 in Argentina.

The 30-year-old crumpled Navarro in the first round with a crunching right hand, but the bell came to the Venezuelan's rescue. Murray then fought within himself for the next three stanzas, exploding with a straight right down the pipe in the fifth to put Navarro under more pressure.

A finish eventually came in the sixth, with Murray dropping his rival for a second time, before backing him up and slamming the body to force Navarro's corner to throw the towel in.

Scott Quigg turned on the style to outclass Rendall Munroe, becoming the first man to stop him as he won the interim WBA world super-bantamweight title. Quigg targeted the body throughout the fight, and it proved the key to victory as Munroe was stopped in the sixth.

The Brits saw their first meeting waved off after a clash of heads in the third round opened a cut over one of Munroe's eyes. That bout was ruled a technical draw, and on Saturday they met for the rematch.

Munroe was slower to the punch all night as Quigg bossed matters, taking at least four of the first five rounds. Quigg sparked the beginning of the end with a body shot that sent Munroe to his knees, and a further right to the body forced the ref to call things off at 2.37 of the sixth stanza.

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