Ricky Hatton has been suffering from severe depression for “several weeks”, his spokesman Max Clifford confirmed tonight as the boxer was admitted to a rehabilitation facility.
Following a report in the News of the World alleging that Hatton used “industrial quantities” of cocaine on a night out in Manchester, the former world champion today spent several hours speaking to specialists about his condition.
Clifford explained that Hatton’s state of mind has been a cause of concern for some time, and that drug use is only the most recent manifestation of a much bigger problem.
“His father has already been talking to the specialists over the last few weeks,” Clifford said.
“He and others have been increasingly concerned about his depression and his drinking.
“He met with the specialist today for four, five, six hours and he was told that his depression is severe depression and that he has a drink problem. The drugs are quite recent and not actually the problem when we’re talking about degrees.”
Clifford said he was not yet sure how much time Hatton would spend in rehab or even if he would spend the night at the facility, as his treatment plan was worked out around other commitments.
However, the specialists are confident he can make a full recovery.
“The problem is depression and the drink has been a problem for some time,” Clifford said. “From everything they’ve said, the drugs are a far more recent thing and very much superficial alongside the drink and depression.
“They are very confident if he does what they tell him with the treatment, therapy and advice, he can sort himself out. And he will do what they tell him.”
While Sunday’s report in the News of the World was said to have left Hatton “devastated”, Clifford now thinks it will turn out to have been a good thing for Hatton.
“He’s been relieved by what they’ve told him,” he said.
“They’ve said, ’This is your problem, this is what’s wrong, and we can sort it out. You should have come to us a long time ago’.
“It’s been a shaft of sunshine coming through. He’s faced up to it now even though he hasn’t for some time and it’s been there for some time.”
Clifford added that Hatton was keen to thank his fans for the messages of support he has received.
“He genuinely wants to thank the thousands of people getting in touch wishing him well,” Clifford said.
“He wants to say a big thank you to everybody for their kind words and thoughts. He’s sorry he’s let everybody down and he is now determined to sort himself out.”
However, it was also confirmed today that 31-year-old Hatton will need to explain himself before the British Boxing Board of Control.
The Board’s chairman Charles Giles said in a statement: “Clearly, the board knows nothing of the actions referred to by the News of the World. But the board will want to see Ricky Hatton at the earliest opportunity and discuss the issues raised in the press accounts with him.”
Hatton renewed his boxing licence in July and has never ruled out a return to the ring, a stance he reinforced last week in a column for the Manchester Evening News.
That means his activities remain very much the concern of the BBBofC.
A statement from the board added: “The board enforces the strictest standards with regard to the use of both recreational and performance enhancing drugs by participants in any capacity in professional boxing: it is concerned at all times to ensure that the sport is run in the best interests both of those who take part in boxing, and the public interest, and that those involved in professional boxing, do nothing to damage the reputation of the sport.”
The News of the World stated that video footage of Hatton was captured over several hours at a Manchester hotel two weeks ago while he was on a night out with friend Emma Bowe, 29, the Irish national senior women’s boxing champion.
She told the paper Hatton also binged on drink by sinking 11 pints of Guinness, vodka, wine and sambuca during the night out.
“I’m only talking about this because Ricky is a danger to himself. If he carries on like this he’ll kill himself,” she was quoted as saying.
“I’m really, really worried for him, especially if he tries to make a comeback in the ring as he’s hinted – he could have a heart attack.”