Victor Loughlin the Scottish referee is a well loved member of the boxing fraternity, and rightly so. One of the biproducts of being involved in any sport is that now and again you get your visage in the mix when you might not want to. There is a picture of Loughlin, attending to a battered and bruised Ricky Hatton, with Hatton clearly in some distress as he has realised what people already knew – it was all over.
The fight in which Loughlin was the referee was Hatton’s return to the ring after three years to face the fearsome, Vyacheslav Senchenko. In his previous fight, the Ukrainian had been beaten by Pauli Malignaggi so there was obvious thinking that here was a tough guy who could prove what was left in the tank for Hatton. And he proved it.
Senchenko was not to go on to dizzying heights and after a loss to Kell Brook nearly a year later this warrior took another three domestic flights and hung up the gloves.
For Hatton the opportunity of one more hurrah, one more journey on the way to stardom was too much to ignore. It was a brutal fight and one from which we took away a lesson.
When Tyson Fury announced that he was coming back, I among many others thought it impetuous. The journey that he has been on tells its own story as he took on a couple of guys who were not really suited to share the ring with him and then went on to WBC world title glory.
It was a far cry from the comeback of David Haye who broke the promise to his mum that he would retire permanently at 35 and returned to take on, eventually, Tony Bellew, not once but twice. It was yet another look through your fingers moment as the leg went and his career divebombed. Once the fight as over the rumours of Haye having gone over to a specialist in Germany like he had done as an amateur with a shoulder injury when fighting for his country abounded. Repeating the pattern of behaviour outside the ring was not mirrored by similar results in the ring when he tried to return.
Of course, the biggest and best comeback MUST be George Foreman’s last one. Getting into the ring, in his late 30’s and battling his way to a world title is no mean feat. He won the WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles against Michael Moorer at the tender age of 45 years old. He didn’t defend the WBA title, having been stripped of it for not defending against Tony Tucker and then won a controversial points defence against Axel Schulz. The IBF demanded a rematch, Foreman refused and his second belt got taken from him; he remained the lineal champion, sound familiar?
After being beaten by Shannon Briggs in another controversial points result, he retried again.
So, when Mike Tyson, looking sharp on the bags, is touted as a possible returner to the ring, you can see why they called upon Foreman for an opinion. If anyone should know what it is likely to be like, he should.
Foreman was very positive. Perhaps he is influenced by his own experience and not by the experiences of those around him who have found it harder. Certainly, Tyson Fury has made it fashionable to think you can balloon up in weight, have a tough time and then turn it all around again then get back in the ring and rediscover your pugilistic mojo.
To see Mike Tyson box again, now there are many who would love to witness that spectacle but there are obvious dangers associated with it. Right now it looks like he is doing an exhibition fight – almost like Floyd Mayweather’s trajectory – but as Foreman warned, he only came back to raise funds for a youth centre – heaven only knows how he ended up fighting for two versions of the world title…
It is, however, perhaps the words of Ricky Hatton, who has joined in the warning chorus against such a move for Iron Mike that should be played over and over again to any boxer who, after years out fancies getting back in the ring.
After his final fight Hatton was quoted as saying, “I am really heartbroken, I am just gutted. I am not a failure. That is not how my career should end but I have to have a good think about it now.”