Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton returns to the ring after a near 3 and a half year layoff. Fans of the ferocious former light welterweight King will be excited by his return and cynics will of course be wondering what his return is all for.
Personally, I don’t think it’s a smart move on his part as I have watched boxing long enough to know that comebacks are very rarely successful. For every success, there are a dozen failures. But I suppose it all depends on what one would rate as “success”. Is he returning to lift more world titles? He’ll be competing at welterweight where he has only fought twice before; against Luis Collazo and Floyd Mayweather Jr; if so, can he compete against the current crop of welterweights? The list of top fighters currently on the welterweight scene include Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander, Marcos Maidana, Robert Guerrero, Kell Brook and Victor Ortiz. I’m not sure how many bookmakers would make Hatton favourite against any of those fighters.
As for this fight, Hatton starts as the favourite but Senchenko was a world champion up until his last fight. But that fight resulted in him being stopped by Paulie Malignaggi, a fighter not renowned for his power.
If Hatton brings at least 75% of what he once had I think he can beat Senchenko within the distance. He looked in peak shape at the weigh in earlier today so that is already half of the work done. Hatton’s power and body assaults should be enough to wear Senchenko down and force a stoppage in my opinion.
I wish him all the best and hope he succeeds in his plans and will reserve judgement until after he has fought Senchenko.
Verdict: I don’t think the fight ends before round 6 but I don’t think it goes to the full 10 rounds either. So I’m picking an 8th round stoppage for Hatton.
The undercard is just as intriguing as the main event.
Britain’s top 2 super bantamweights Scott Quigg and Rendall Munroe battle for the WBA interim title. Quigg starts as the slight favourite but Munroe should never be counted out. Quigg will have his work cut out for him if he is going to try to stop Munroe inside the distance. This means he will probably try to outbox Munroe over the 12 rounds.
In their first fight back in June, which ended in the 3rd round due to a clash of heads, Munroe pressed the fight pressuring Quigg early on. Quigg tends to do the pressuring in his fights so this could prove to be a tricky fight for Quigg if it goes the distance. Munroe is nowhere near finished and can still be a big player on the European scene. Quigg is the deserving favourite but I think it will go the distance and that means he will have to be at his absolute best to beat a top British fighter in Munroe. A stoppage win for Quigg though would be a big accomplishment and set up a potential mouth watering fight against Carl Frampton.
Verdict: I think Quigg wins on points. However, do not be at all surprised if Munroe has his hands raised at the end.
Also, Stephen Foster Jr challenges British super featherweight Gary Buckland. This could be the best fight on the night potentially. Buckland is odds on favourite to win and I’m not sure many would dispute that. But some are picking Foster to pull off the upset.
Foster doesn’t have a great deal of big wins but he’s only been beaten 3 times, all over the distance, and to top fighters. He will be aiming to stifle everything Buckland does on the night and will definitely have some success. His overall success on the night will depend on how well Buckland can handle the pressure.
Buckland on the other hand has some really big wins in recent years against the likes of Gary Sykes, Paul Truscott and the super featherweight Prizefighter tournament in 2010. He has been in quite a few brawls and Foster will be aiming for another. Expect to see another Buckland vs Sykes II.
Verdict: I expect another brawl and think the odds on Buckland to win might be a bit low. I think he will win a really close points decision but Foster could win this one no problem. Rematch to follow?
Martin Murray won’t know much about the little known Venezuelan Jorge Navarro but that shouldn’t stop him from winning comfortably.
In any fight where the opponent is unknown it makes predicting a knockout very tough. We must ask a lot of questions: How good is his chin? Can he punch? What’s his stamina like?
Roberto Bolonti lasted the full 12 rounds with Tony Bellew last weekend despite the latter being odds on to win within the distance. So we could see the same again, afterall Murray only has 10 knockouts from 24 bouts.
However, rumours are that if Murray wins he could receive a world title shot at Sergio Martinez in April next year. I think that should act as the ultimate motivation booster. If he can’t get up for that then he’s in the wrong career.
Verdict: I expect Murray to stop his opponent by the middle rounds; maybe round 7.
Also: Sergey Rabchenko should beat Cedric Vitu before round 6.