In an interview with The Telegraph, Ricky Hatton discusses how the pains of losing to Mayweather and Pacquiao drove him into a deep depression.
"Shame and Guilt" is how The Telegraph describes Hatton's psyche following knockout losses to perhaps the two best fighters of this generation. Those losses took more than a physical toll on the former British champion. Much, much more. In fact, Hatton credits those two losses (both of which happened in spectacular fashion) for severe anxiety and depression because of the sheer embarrassment he felt - culminating in several suicide attempts . Thankfully, those dark days seem to have passed for Ricky who now feels that he's in a much better place. Time heals all wounds, as the saying goes...
"I don't have those dark thoughts any more, no. I am feeling older and, as you get older, you can look back at everything you've done in your life with a bit more pride. Depression is a serious thing and, after my defeat to Pacquiao, I was facing retirement and didn't cope with it very well."
"People used to say to me for years about the Mayweather fight and it f**** me off: ‘Losing to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is ok, there's no shame in that.' No, no, no. I didn't go there just because it was them and it was a big payday. I went there to f****** beat them. So, when I didn't, it did my head in."
I think these quotes really tell the story about how much physical and emotional investment top flight fighters put into their careers. It's not just about getting in shape, it's also about conditioning your mind. To succeed between the ropes you really need to be completely convinced that you can win the fight. Any preceding doubt in the mind of fighters only serves to precipitate their downfall. I cannot think of a more illustrative example of this than the Tyson-Spinks fight. Watch the ring entrances and you can see the fear and doubt written all over Michael Spinks' face. I'm not saying that if Spinks believed in himself more that he would've won that fight, but his obvious fear and doubt lost him the fight before it ever began.
Now, if you're completely convinced that you'll win, you at least have a chance. But if you ultimately lose (and in Ricky's case, badly) after being so sure of yourself, it can have a terrible psychological impact - making you question your own beliefs.
"I felt I'd let people down. I look at those fights with pride now, but for so long I just thought, f****** hell, I got beaten by him, I don't want to leave the house, it's embarrassing. I told everyone I was going to beat them and I couldn't."
Of course, not everyone who believes in themselves and loses takes it so hard, but this also explains why when some fighters get thoroughly outclassed and beaten, they never look the same in the ring again - even if it isn't because of the physical toll. All of this is also why I have a certain level of respect for any person willing to step between the ropes. It really is a hard thing to do, and something that the average person wouldn't have the stomach to go through willingly. All in all, I'm happy that Ricky has found his peace, something I would consider a success story. After all, we've seen so many other fighter's stories ultimately end in tragedy.