Ricky Hatton was left unconscious in his last fight, has been in drug rehab and come close to suicide, but on Saturday, after a three-year gap he will be back in the ring, fighting for redemption.

"I want to make people proud of me again," said Hatton, who, still only 34, will be seeking to dismiss the demons left by the gloved fists of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, the two men who ruined his life in lucrative fights in Las Vegas.

"It's not about coming back to win world titles or fight people like Amir Khan or Kell Brook. I would like to fight them, but let's see what I've got first. It's about me doing what I need to do."

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It is also about the fans buying every one of the 18,500 tickets for the fight at the Manchester Arena within days of the comeback announcement and weeks before an opponent was even named. Hatton fell into a darkness of drugs, sex and alcohol after he returned from Vegas and the sickening second-round knockout by Pacquiao in May 2009.

He threatened comebacks a couple of times, even as his face grew fatter from the abuse, but each threat vanished under a scandal.

"I knew that this time it was for real when I got back in the gym," Hatton said. "I could feel the fire coming back and then I knew I had to fight again. I know I have things to prove and this is how I will do it – I fight, it's what I love."

The Mancunian has worked his body into shape under the careful eye of Bob Shannon, a trainer who has known him for a long time.

Shannon didn't arrive with a mouthful of empty boasts like so many trainers paid to pick up the pieces of a fallen fighter; he has just got on with his job in silence and Hatton has been in incredible shape for more than a month. According to Hatton there was a split in his loyal camp when he announced he would be fighting Ukraine's former world champion Vyacheslav Senchenko, who lost his title this year and remains a very real threat.

"I know the game and this is the level that I have to start at if I have any chance of moving on," Hatton said. "There were a lot of other fighters being thrown at me, but I want a real fight and the people at the Manchester Arena want to see a real fight." They will get one, and hopefully it will be a win, but there is no guarantee that Hatton still has what made him such a formidable and popular fighter. His speed has probably dipped, but like all veterans he knows enough to compensate with movement.

It will be an emotional homecoming for Hatton at a venue where he has fought 14 times, the last being the memorable night he beat Kostya Tszyu in 2005. Senchenko is not the best fighter for the Englishman to be taking on, but it is certainly the Hitman's most important fight in Manchester.

A win will not be enough. If he has aspirations beyond silencing his demons; Hatton has to look good, too, but that is the pressure he loves so much.