Boxing comment: Ricky Hatton's comeback gets under way on Saturday in front of a guaranteed sell-out crowd at the Manchester Arena, where he will face former world welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko.
Since announcing his decision to return to the ring after suffering a brutal KO in his previous fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2009, the question of whether Hatton can come back after such a long absence has been paramount among commentators and boxing writers.
But as the countdown to Saturday's fight has progressed, the consensus is that the Hitman has got himself back into spectacular shape and the fairytale return to former glory that his legion of fans is desperate to see is possible.
Hatton is and will always be a genuine people's champion, loved and supported by fans to an extent that no other British fighter in the history of the sport has been or is ever likely to be.
Listening to the many interviews he's given explaining his motivation for making a comeback, it is not hard to understand why.
The openness with which the former world champ has discussed his demons since losing to Pacquiao - binge drinking, dalliance with cocaine and deep depression resulting in serious contemplation of suicide - reflects the vulnerability that has endeared him to the sport.
For all his achievements in the ring and resulting popularity, Hatton has never lost sight of his working-class roots or lifestyle.
Not for him the bling associated with other fighters who've made millions. No mansions in LA, no flash cars with personalised number plates, no mountain of jewellery.
Instead the passionate Man City fan has remained close to home, where he's opened a gym and turned his hand to training and promoting.
The danger is that in using boxing to deal with the demons he experienced in retirement, Ricky hasn't so much overcome them as suppressed them by throwing himself into the training and sparring regimen of old.
His quest for what he considers redemption for the loss to Pacquiao suggests a man who feels the weight of responsibility and guilt for letting down his army of fans, who'd travelled to Vegas to support him.
This is a dangerous mindset to adopt, and certainly one completely at odds with reality.
The truth is Hatton did not let anyone down, least of all his fans. On the contrary, his ring career provided them with countless nights of excitement and entertainment.
Let's hope he comes through tonight according to the script with a convincing performance and wins.
More importantly, if it turns out his three-year absence from the ring leaves no doubt that he was wrong to come back, let's hope he is able to accept what every fighter must at some point - namely that life doesn't have to end after the ring.
Another widely anticipated event, this one taking place next Saturday, is the ring debut of Andrew Flintoff.
The former star of English cricket has been training for months now under the tutelage of Barry McGuigan and his son Shane McGuigan.
Judging by the slimmed-down version of the man who used to hit cricket balls for six with ease, Flintoff has been working hard and taking it seriously. And the endorsement of a man like Barry McGuigan cannot be taken lightly.
In riposte to the naysayers, and there are many, McGuigan has gone out on a limb to declare that Flintoff's ring career is not the freak show cynics are claiming it will be, claiming that he has proved in sparring he has what it takes to impress.
No matter, Flintoff's introduction to the world of professional boxing - the subject of a three-part documentary by Sky - contains all the elements of farce.
For a man who retired from cricket through injury and was left with glass knees, the ability to mount a credible showing in the most demanding sport of them all seems doubtful in the extreme.
This is a view shared by the likes of Frank Warren, who described the event as "car-crash television."
British and Commonwealth heavyweight champ David Price, who's due to fight Matt Skelton the same night Flintoff steps into the ring, said: "If it's just some type of PR stunt then it's disrespectful to boxing.
"The reality is he could get hurt if there's someone in front of him who'll stand up and throw punches back."
Price's promoter Frank Maloney was less kind. "Giving Flintoff a professional licence with no experience of boxing is a joke. It gives our sport a bad name."
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