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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
R. Hatton on verge of unretiring?

By Dan Rafael

There's only one Ricky Hatton, and the British superstar appears poised for a comeback.

Hatton, who retired after being knocked cold in the second round by Manny Pacquiao in a May 2009 welterweight title fight, is scheduled to make "a major announcement" at a news conference scheduled for Friday in his hometown of Manchester.

It seems obvious that he will be announcing his return to the ring, which has been rumored for months. Hatton, who turns 34 on Oct. 6, has taken to tweeting about his daily workouts and weight loss, and he's in the process of trying to secure a British boxing license.

It doesn't come as much of a surprise. Hatton has stayed close to boxing since retiring. He has worked as a trainer and also has made the effort to beef up his promotional company, which has fallen on hard times since losing its TV deal with Sky Sports. It would seem to me that the TV deal for Hatton's comeback fight -- word in the industry is that it is tentatively slated for Nov. 24 (opponent TBA) -- will be tied to getting his promotional company a new broadcast deal.

Hatton (45-2, 32 KOs), the former junior welterweight champ who also won a welterweight belt, was a huge attraction in England -- on TV and at the gate. And when he began fighting regularly in the United States in 2006, that popularity followed him to America because his fans traveled to his fights by the thousands.

His 10th-round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a December 2007 welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand remains the greatest single event I've ever covered in terms of atmosphere. It was like England came to Las Vegas, and the MGM literally ran out of beer. Something like 30,000 Brits made the trip for a fight that seated only about 17,000.

I recently reached out to Paul Speak, one of Hatton's advisers, and asked about the rumored comeback.

Speak didn't issue a denial, simply saying, "There is no official statement from the Hatton organizations."

That statement, I'll bet, will come on Friday.