Ricky Hatton has made it clear that his exhibition with Marco Antonio Barrera on Saturday night won’t lead to a legitimate comeback.

The 44-year-old Hatton embraced this Barrera exhibition in large part to motivate himself to make overdue lifestyle changes for a legendary British boxer whose weight wildly fluctuated during his career and after it ended. Though the former junior welterweight and welterweight champion cannot wait to enjoy another fight night atmosphere inside his hometown arena, Hatton has an enormous amount of respect for Barrera and acknowledged that their exhibition won’t resemble a real boxing match.

“My fighting days are behind me,” Hatton told Sky Sports recently. “There’s very little risk involved. I think that’s what fight fans worry about when fighters make comebacks. They’re worried about seeing their heroes get beat or hurt. They don’t want to see the champions of yesteryear getting bashed up.

“With an exhibition, there’s very little chance of that happening. You’ve got the big gloves, less rounds and there’s an understanding with two professionals. It’s a celebration.”

Hatton and Barrera will headline a card that Sky Sports will televise from AO Arena in Manchester, the renamed venue where Hatton produced the most noteworthy victory of his career – a technical knockout of favored former IBF junior welterweight champ Kostya Tszyu in June 2005. For Hatton, his return to training for even an exhibition has made him feel healthier both mentally and physically than he has felt in years.

“Everyone knows the story with my mental health,” Hatton said. “I’ve had problems with [drinking], drugs and depression. My mental health is bang on track, but my physical health has never been better and it’s going to stay that way.”

The beloved Hatton hasn’t participated in an actual boxing match in nearly 10 years, not since former WBA world welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko knocked him out in the ninth round at what was then known as Manchester Arena. Hatton hadn’t fought in 3½ years before Ukraine’s Senchenko sent him back into retirement in November 2012.

This return to the ring is more about celebrating what was a very successful career, not continuing it.

The 48-year-old Barrera, meanwhile, hasn’t competed in a fight that counted on his record since February 2011, when he stopped the Dominican Republic’s Jose Arias in the second round in Guadalajara.

Barrera won world titles in three weight classes – junior featherweight, featherweight and junior lightweight. He retired with a record of 67-7, including 44 knockouts.

Hatton (45-3, 32 KOs) reportedly has lost 47 pounds to compete in what has been scheduled as an eight-round middleweight exhibition.

“I shifted a load of weight, but more importantly, I think it’s ended up being a lifestyle change for me,” Hatton said. “I never cared back in the day with putting too much weight on. Because deep down I knew in six or seven weeks, I’d be back in training for my next fight.

“There are not many training camps I’m going to be going back into anymore, so this is going to be a lifestyle change. I don’t intend on going back to Ricky ‘Fatton.’ Absolutely not, for the sake of my health. I got down from 15 stone to 11½ stone. I can’t keep doing that. I can’t keep dragging someone out of retirement for an exhibition every time I want to get some weight off. Things have got to change now.”

Sky Sports will air a women’s 154-pound title unification bout before Barrera-Hatton on Saturday night. That 10-rounder will feature Liverpool’s Natasha Jonas (12-2-1, 8 KOs), who will risk her WBC and WBO belts against Quebec’s Marie-Eve Dicaire (18-1, 1 KO), the IBF junior middleweight champ. Sky Sports’ coverage, which will begin at 7 p.m. GMT, also will feature Sheffield’s Dalton Smith (12-0, 10 KOs) in a 10-round, 140-pound bout against Birmingham’s Kaisee Benjamin (16-1-1, 6 KOs).

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.