RICKY HATTON stunned boxing fans with a lean and mean physique as he hit the scales for the first time in over a decade.
The Hitman returns to the ring on Saturday night for an exhibition with Mexican great Marco Antonio Barerra.
Hatton, 44, left no stone unturned for the eight-rounder with his pal – putting in multiple gruelling training sessions a day.
And his hard work at the gym has left him with rock-solid six-pack abs, which boxing fans marvelled at after seeing him step on the scales.
One tweeted: “Saw this guy in the flesh in February and he was literally 3x times the size he is now, fair play!”
Another said: “Amazing how quick he can get into shape.”
And another said: “Fair play. Some hard graft there.”
One remarked: “The old man looks great!!!”
The Hitman is in such a good mental space he has even treated himself to the occasional pint in the build-up and managed to stay on track over a family holiday where he would usually go OTT.
“I’ve been having a few Guinness here and there,” he said with the trademark smile fans fell in love with. “Because I’ve been able to keep on top of it.
“I went to Tenerife for five weeks. Normally I’d put on a stone and a half but I went there and put four or five pounds on. Everyone was like “f***!” but that’s the way it’s going to be now.
“It’s not gonna be ‘I’m 44, I’m gonna put my feet up, pipe and slippers’.
“You get a little bit older, a bit wiser and things have to change – a little bit.”
It was an all-too-rare TV appearance that sparked Hatton’s transformation and a clear out of his wardrobe even more ruthless than his assault on the super-lightweight division.
“I went in and filmed A Question of Sport three weeks before I started training,” he said.
“I’d been in camp for eight weeks when they told me it was coming on.
“I flicked it on and went “F***ing hell!’.
“I was alright mentally and I have been for a while but when I saw the show I emptied my entire wardrobe.
“I’ve got a new wardrobe now, I’m a 30in waist at the minute. I’ve got a few 32s. As soon as the 32s get a bit too tight, I’m not going for the 34s again.
“If I can’t get the button fastened, I don’t f***ing go out!”
The dance with the 48-year-old Mexican warhorse was originally scheduled for July 2 but suffered a postponement.
But he handled the heartbreak and extended training camp with typical humour and honesty.
He said: “Physically I’d look in the mirror at 15 stone and think, ‘Rick, you don’t look too bad’ and it never bothered me while I was fighting, because in six or seven weeks I’d be back training and it would come off anyway.
“But I’m 44 now, I can’t keep dragging some poor f***er out of retirement every time I want to get some weight off!
“I’ve enjoyed the compliments, people coming up to me with mental health and saying, ‘f***ing hell, Rick, I’ve been struggling with my weight and seeing you shift all that weight has made me want to’.
“Then other people have said, ‘Jesus, Ricky, seeing you a few years ago with all that weight, suicidal, wanting to kill yourself, heavily drinking, heavily into drugs, the way you were, to see you now, it’s been so inspiring’.
“So even when the original fight was postponed, I knew it had not been for nothing.
“It was the first training camp I had in ten years and now I’ve had two in ten years.
“I’ve stayed on top of things, I do ten rounds of sparring, I wouldn’t have been able to in the last time. Now I can.
“Nobody can say this exhibition is a bad thing.
“When fighters make comebacks, you never want to see your heroes being bashed up or hurt. In an exhibition, it’s controlled.
“You can see your heroes for one last time, showcase their skills, with the knowledge they won’t get hurt.
“With me, people who have struggled with their weight and depression, the shape of me now, the way I’m talking, how I’ve changed. I’m not ready for my pipe and slippers yet.
“It’s inspired a lot of people, I’ll hear the crowd roar again and share the ring with Marco, it’s a dream. I can’t see a negative thing about it.”
Hatton vs Barrera, November 12, Manchester Arena. Live on Sky Sports Main Event – Buy Tickets at https://www.hattonbarrera.com
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