He walked in and I barely noticed him.  Not for any lack of presence – he has oodles of that, and a grin wider than any boxer’s glove – but he’s doing things the old way. The slow way.

There was a nod and a smile for the receptionist and a bit of chit-chat with an old boy resting after his workout on the treadmill.  He dug for some change in his pocket and  paid for a coffee in his gym in Hyde. Yes, his gym – he owns it.

A lifetime accumulating lucrative winnings from the ring has helped Hatton begin a business empire that post-retirement should see him good.

And that’s the point, because Hatton is only now really able to talk about his future with any sense of purpose.

No-one in boxing thinks his comeback fight next weekend against the Ukrainian Vyacheslav Senchenko will be easy, but Hatton says it doesn’t matter.

“Win or lose,  I’ve already won,” he told me.

Because Hatton’s come back from the brink. Not just of depression, but suicide.  And not just once – four or five times, he said, his girlfriend caught him with the knife.

What’s refreshing is how readily Hatton wants to talk about overcoming his demons, and his journey.

“What’s the comeback all about?” was my first question to him this afternoon.

“Redemption,” he answered, without missing a beat.

“I want to finish my career the way it should have ended – not flat on my back on the canvas.”

Which is where it all went wrong against Manny Pacquiao three and a half years ago.  Hatton stopped training.  His weight ballooned.  He fell out with his family and started boozing and taking drugs. He was filmed by a newspaper snorting cocaine in an hotel.  Something had to change before it was too late.

Getting back in the ring was his escape.  It gave him focus – and he’s talking about it.  What makes his story so compelling is he is the boy next door who took on the world.

“I still hang out with the lads I went to primary school with,” he explains.

“And I feel like I let them down.  Everybody down.  The nation down.  All my fans down.  I just needed to prove that I could get fit again.”

Like he said – “win or lose”, he’s already won.

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