Hatton: The Talking Cure
Ricky Hatton continues to make the rounds. In advance of his Nov. 24 comeback fight against Vyacheslav Senchenko, Hatton is regaling the press with the struggles he suffered after his 2009 loss to Manny Pacquiao. Everyone’s heart goes out to him. No one wants to see a beloved former champion bottoming out. But the warning signs were there before that KO, just as warning signs are there now.
Although he has discussed his depression before, he is describing it again, and going into more detail than is perhaps necessary.
“I was near to a nervous breakdown, depression, suicidal,” Hatton told Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek. “Most mornings my girlfriend would have to come downstairs and take a knife out of my hand. I had a knife at my wrists, I was in a really bad way, just hysterically crying for no reason. I’ve always liked a little bit of a drink, but my drinking had gone way off the Richter scale, I was having blackouts. And even if I was stone cold sober I was trying to kill myself.”
If that sounds serious it’s because it was serious. Hatton, to his credit, has apparently stopped drinking, stopped crying, stopped contemplating suicide, which is for best since there’s a prizefight that needs his attention.
“The real lowest point was when my little girl came along, who is one-year-old now. [My] son Campbell had the misfortune to see his dad in such a bad way, I am not going to do it anymore to my kids and I’m not going to put my family though it anymore.”
Listening to Hatton makes one believe in fresh starts. It’s out with the old, in with the new, stiff upper lip and on with the show.
“I feel sad because I feel ashamed of myself,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter how many people say, ‘Ricky, everyone has problems and you got beaten by Mayweather and Pacquiao who are the two best fighters of our generation. You did the country proud.’
“That’s very kind of people to say, but they don’t have to deal with this little fella who sits on my shoulder every day telling me that I’m a failure and I’ve let my family and my fans down and British sport, British boxing down. I feel a failure and it doesn’t matter how many people say, ‘ Don’t be too hard on yourself.’ That’s how I feel and that’s how I’m coming back. I feel I’ve got to redeem myself… I’ve got to put the demon and those ghosts to rest.”
How much pressure is too much pressure? Coming out of retirement after a three-year absence would seem to be pressure enough. Yet Ricky, with his “demon and those ghosts,” will be facing not just one opponent but several, at one and the same time.
Hatton said he wants “people to look at me as a four-time world champion, man of the people and not look at me as this joke I feel I’ve become.”
Ricky Hatton was never a joke and is not a joke now. He is not a failure. He is a huge success.
There may some validity to the talking cure. Confessional in nature, it more or less clears the air as it lets us bear witness. It also fosters self-awareness. But self-awareness can veer into monomania, which is not only grotesque, it is also a minefield.
What happens if Ricky loses next month? Will he sink into despair? And if he defeats Senchenko and decides to soldier on, which seems likely, what’s to prevent someone down the road, someone younger, stronger and more defensive-minded than Senchenko, from giving him a beating?
Hatton can fight. Hatton could always fight. But will he be strong enough to endure shame if and when it comes again?
We hope so.