Ricky Hatton defends return in exhibition bout: ‘I’m doing it to inspire people’

Hatton has been retired from boxing for a decade but is now set to take part in an exhibition bout

Ricky Hatton says he is coming out of retirement to fight in an exhibition bout to “inspire” people and insists it isn’t a “comeback”.

Hatton retired from boxing in 2012 but the former two-weight world champion will face Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera in July over eight rounds. The star has spoken on the mental health battle he went through after hanging up his gloves and says the fight is about showing people things can get better.

“I want to go out and put another show on. That’s why I’m doing it, to inspire people,” he told BBC Sport. “A few years ago I struggled badly with my mental health, I was massively overweight, drinking too much, had my drugs problems and was suicidal. It was a terrible time,” he said.

“This is not a comeback; it’s an exhibition bout. There are less rounds, bigger gloves, shorter rounds, and there’s an understanding between me and Marco Antonio Barrera.

“I want people to go to the event and say ‘look at the shape and mental and physical condition Ricky is in, bearing in mind how he was six or seven years ago’.”

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He spoke about the want to inspire people when the fight was announced. Hatton also said at the time it was about helping those who had been suffering throughout the Covid lockdowns.

“I am doing this for fans who struggled being locked up with Covid,” he said. “I got a call and was asked if I would come back to do this for the fans who have been locked up for ages during Covid. Covid has been tough for me, for everyone.

“I want to inspire people who have had mental health problems, too. They can look at me and say ‘He struggled and now look at where he is’ so they can do it too.”

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