- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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The biggest win of Ricky Hatton’s career -- when he thrilled the hometown Manchester, England crowd by stopping Kostya Tszyu in the 11th round to win the junior welterweight championship in 2005 -- was televised in the United States on Showtime.
Two fights later, Hatton signed a multi-fight contract with rival HBO and fought six of his next seven fights either on HBO or HBO PPV before retiring in 2009 following a brutal second-round knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao.
Well now, as we all know, the 34-year-old Hatton (45-2, 32 KOs) is coming out of a 3½-year retirement on Nov. 24 to fight former welterweight titlist Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-1, 30 KOs), who lost his belt to Paulie Malignaggi in his last fight in April. The fight will also serve as Hatton’s return to Showtime, which announced on Friday that it has bought the American rights to the fight, which also drew serious interest from Epix.
Showtime will carry the scheduled 10-round fight from Manchester Arena live at 5 p.m. ET (although it will air at 5 p.m. on tape on the West Coast) on a special edition of “Showtime Championship Boxing.” There will also be a replay that night at 8 ET/PT on Showtime Extreme.
“This is a very dangerous opponent for a so-called comeback fight,” said Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza. “Ricky is showing us that he wants to challenge himself and immediately put himself back in the mix with the top 147 pounders. There are a number of exciting matchups in this division, and with a win Ricky will be right back in upper echelon of the division.”
Hatton is as popular as ever in England, where the bout will air on Primetime pay-per-view. Before the opponent was even announced, the 18,000-seat arena sold out.
Hatton, also a former welterweight titlist, battled depression, suicidal thoughts, drugs and ballooning weight after retiring. He says he is doing well now and gotten in shape for his comeback.
“People ask if I should come back, will I win, can I be world champ again. They don’t get it.” Hatton said. “I’ve already won. I’m here. I saved myself. The end of the ‘Ricky Hatton Story’ was not being knocked out by Pacquiao. I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and showing what I can do. I want to get back in the title mix, but you can’t do that by taking easy fights. That’s why I’m taking on this guy.”
The fight will mark Hatton’s 10th appearance on Showtime (which includes three fights that aired on “ShoBox: The New Generation”).
If Hatton defeats Senchenko, it is likely that he will challenge welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi, who won a debatable split decision against Pablo Cesar Cano on Showtime last week. In a November 2008 lineal junior welterweight title defense, Hatton stopped Malignaggi in the 11th round of a one-sided fight.