Ricky Hatton: Why I have decided to come back and fight Antonio Barrera in our exhibition

Hatton will fight Barrera under exhibition rules in Manchester on 2 July (Picture: Getty)

when Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr had their exhibition fight a few years ago, I thought any former professional fighter, or any former world champion given the opportunity would to do the same and jump at the chance.

Of course, our best years are behind us. I made my comeback in 2012 and I still stick by what I said after that. I wanted to find out of I still had it and I didn’t. So my fighting days are over.

But having a move around with some like Marco Antonio Barrera, a fight legend and a friend of mine, is a great opportunity. We all know how good he is and for me to have an opportunity to find that out first-hand, you can’t put a price on it.

I am doing this for those who struggled during Covid

It has been a difficult time with lockdown with people struggling with their mental health. I have lost friends during Covid, I have lost friends through mental health struggles. It was a horrible time. So now we can have a bit of a celebration, not a boxing fight, but a celebration. Ricky Hatton coming back for one last dance at the Manchester Arena.

Hatton will fight Barrera over eight rounds which will not be scored with no winner to be announced.

We will have live bands on, we will have celebrity boxing matches on the undercard, we are celebrating, putting on a show. And we will raise money for mental health causes in the process.

Of course, me and Marco have seen better days. But we are retired, we are not dead! We are still champions. It will be competitive, but there will be no liberties taken, me and Marco are friends. It is an exhibition and I think the fans will love and appreciate that.

It is great to see your heroes fight one last time knowing they won’t get hurt. And that is what people worry about. You don’t want to see people you love get hurt and you won’t see anyone get hurt here. It is an exhibition, not a fight.

We will do this the right way

I think some of these sort of fights have not been done very well in the past. Evander Holyfield got put in a proper fight last year, that wasn’t good at all. We want to do it right. This is the first one to take place in Great Britain and we want to make sure the caliber and quality of it all is just right.

I don’t want my fans going home thinking: ‘What the f**k was all that about?’ I have got a reputation for putting on a good show and I’m not going to ruin what I’ve built over the years by allowing this to become a shamble. Trust me, everyone is going to love this.

The only thing me and Marco are worried about is not making the other one look an idiot. And that’s where the competitive side will come in. But there will be no cheap shots, no knockouts, we both have a perfect appreciation for what this is all about.

This exhibition is good for my wellbeing and I hope it can be for anyone watching on too. I would like people to think: ‘A couple of years ago he was on death’s door wanting to kill himself – look at him now’. I will be in good shape at 43 having a move around with another legend.

That is the message that I try to share every day. The bad times don’t last forever and if you set your mind to it, look what you can do. That is the whole purpose of this event in many ways. There will be nothing but positivity to come out of this.

We are being allowed to live again after Covid and lockdown and what better way to do that than to have this celebration alongside Marco Antonio Barrera. It will be a proper event. This is massive for me. Not only because I will be sharing the ring with one of my heroes, but if there are few people out there who can take a bit of inspiration and motivation then that is all that matters.

It is good for my mindset too. You have got to give yourself something worth getting out of bed for in the morning. If you have that mindset, anyone who has struggled with their mental health will be better for it. I know I am. That attitude is why I am in a position to do this.

Ricky Hatton vs Marco Antonio Barrera will take place at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday 2 July.

For more information ticket registration, head to HattonBarrera.com

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