Manny Pacquiao is a fierce competitor who takes pride in every victory on his record, but there is no doubt that even he has mixed emotions about the brinks that his second-round KO victory over Ricky Hatton drove the English fighter to.
After getting systematically destroyed by Pacquiao in March of 2009, Hatton found his life out of sorts and quickly turned to drinking and drugs to cope. Although his “official” retirement didn’t come until July of this year, the Stockport-born fighter completely withdrew himself from all things related to the sport of boxing immediately after that crushing loss to his Filipino counterpart.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Hatton opened up regarding just how far he fell when he was at his lowest, and how he ultimately got himself back together.
"I was so down, I was crying and breaking out and contemplating suicide," Hatton told the BBC.
"I was going deeper and deeper into depression. I was going out and having a few drinks. The worst thing you can do with depression is add alcohol to it. I needed something to get my backside into gear and pull my finger out. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to think, 'Blimey Ricky, get a grip'.
"Depression is a serious thing and, after my defeat to Manny Pacquiao, I contemplated retirement and didn't cope with it very well."
Hatton didn’t hold anything back when describing his drug problems. Acknowledging that it was a shameful and embarrassing time for him, the two-time IBF and IBO light welterweight champion made no justifications for his actions.
"For someone in my position taking drugs once is nothing short of disgraceful," he said.
"The reason behind my actions and the way I was behaving wasn't a drink or drugs thing, it was depression. I was so down, I was crying and breaking out and contemplating suicide. Half the things I was doing I didn't even read about in the paper. I can't even remember the night it happened - that's what depression does to you.
"I was having blackouts, days on end whether I was drinking or not when I couldn't remember what had happened in my life. I thank the News of the World because who knows where it could have ended up."
Sometimes the boxing community tends to forget that these fighters who leave it all in the ring every single time they compete are human. That they feel the same emotions, fears and regrets that fans and critics do. Sure, maybe in a lot of cases they’re better built to deal with the praise and criticism in a healthy manner but, as Hatton showed us, that isn’t always the case.
At the end of the day, boxing is just a sport, which in turn is just a pastime. The deep-seeded emotional attachment that everyone has to it adds to the allure and in some ways makes it the amazing sweet science that is, but it’s still important to keep things in perspective.
Guys like Hatton coming out and being brave about what they underwent in their heydays is as necessary it is painful. Although his career may have ended prematurely as a result of his own mistakes, Ricky’s impact on the sport is still as consequential as ever.