There was a painful irony about the fact that it was a deep left hook to the body which left Hatton down and out on the MEN Arena canvas in front of thousands of his stunned home-town supporters. It was precisely the punch with which Hatton had felled so many world-class opponents in his prime, and it was just gone midnight in Manchester when Hatton admitted with brutal candour it was the last he will ever take.
Hatton said: “A fighter knows when it’s not there any more, and it’s not there. I’m not going to put myself through that torture again, and I’m not going to put my family through it.”
An odyssey that began at the Kingsway Leisure Centre in Widnes in 1997 and led him and his thousands of followers all the way to the Las Vegas strip had finally been brought to an end by the ticking of the clock.
In a moving speech to the assembled press, Hatton said: “Now I can go and be the best father to my kids, and I can go to the gym on Monday and try to be the best promoter in the world. I can go into retirement as a happy man. Nobody wants to be knocked out in their last two fights but I had to put the ghosts to bed and find out what I wanted to find out.
“I am leaving with a healthy state of mind. I’m a happy man now. I don’t feel like putting a knife to my wrists. I have got the answers I needed.”
Hatton had chosen a difficult assignment for what turned out to be his final test, the tough and gangly Senchenko having won all but one of his professional bouts and held a version of the world title until April this year. It was a bout clearly designed to set up a world title rematch against Paulie Malignaggi, who watched from ringside, and with whom plans had already been made for a second showdown in New York next year.