Boxing fans received a heavy does of nostalgia this evening as Ricky Hatton and Marco Antonio Barrera stepped through the ropes for an exhibition bout in Manchester.
Hatton and Barrera hung up the gloves ten and eleven years ago, respectively. Within the four corners of the ring in Manchester there was a combined 123 fights, 76 knockouts, 12 world titles in five weight classes, and millions of fans worldwide.
Following a Mariachi band ring walk for The Mexican and an old school rendition of Blue Moon Rising for The Brit, the referee gathered the men in the centre of the ring for their exhibition of ‘skill and sportsmanship.’
𝐁𝐋𝐔𝐄 𝐌𝐎𝐎𝐍! 🌙 🔵@HitmanHatton's special ringwalk one last time ✨ pic.twitter.com/1FPtwpZ4BF
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) November 12, 2022
Hatton looked the sharper of the two, and you got the sense that it meant a little more to Manchester’s favourite son. Whilst his speed wasn’t on par with 15 years ago, there were shadows visible. In fact, Hatton showed glimpses of everything he was well known for in the ring.
As for Barrera, he had the chance to show some quick reactions and feints, as well as showcasing a nice jab. In the second half of the fight he perhaps turned the heat up to go level with his old pal in terms of effort put in, and as a result it swayed very slightly from sparring to fight territory.
Despite the shots being thrown with some intent towards the end, there was never really a danger of either man getting into trouble.
In the final few seconds the fight threatened to catch fire, giving fans a taste of what it might look like if either man was coming here to win at all costs. That, given the miles on the clocks, was just the right amount of that.
As the final bell rang for what’s likely the very last time for both men, they embraced, swapped flags, and had one hand raised each.
The respect at the final bell between Ricky Hatton & Marco Antonio Barrera 🤝 pic.twitter.com/xbkQFC1Ghn
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) November 13, 2022
Post-fight, an emotional Hatton paid tribute to his loyal following.
“It’s been nice to do this exhibition on Sky Sports. You were there at the start of my career when I was eighteen, 26 years ago. I had my first fight on Sky Sports and I’m having my last fight on Sky Sports.”
“It doesn’t need me to tell you what I think of the fans. They’ve always been my main achievement, and that proves it again tonight.”
All in all, it was a fun fight and the way boxing exhibitions should be conducted. After Evander Holyfield’s upsetting return to the ring and the trend of mismatches in this side of the sport, Hatton and Barrera did it right.