let's rock | 

Versatile rapper poses with boxing legend Ricky Hatton ahead of ring return

'It’s going to be an absolute spectacle and I cannot wait to step back in the ring again'

Casper with the 'Hitman'

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Versatile rapper Casper Walsh has promised fight fans “an absolute spectacle” when he climbs into the ring on the undercard of Ricky Hatton's big return to boxing.

Former world champion Hatton will be fighting for the first time since 2012 when he faces Marco Antonio Barrera on July 2.

The charity event in the AO Arena Manchester will also feature a battle between UFC legends Dan Hardy and Diego Sanchez and live performances from award-winning rap artists.

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Also starring on the undercard is Walsh, one-half of the successful Irish rap group 'Versatile' who are known for their hit single 'Ketamine'.

Walsh, who is taking on fellow rapper Don Strapzy, is no stranger to fighting and has competed in several Muay Thai fights before.

"Delighted to announce I’ll be boxing in the AO Arena Manchester on the undercard of the renowned Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton and his legendary opponent Marco Antonio Barrera this July 2,” he said.

"It’s going to be an absolute spectacle and I cannot wait to step back in the ring again. Don Strapzy, let’s rock baby we put on a serious show for the fans."

Hatton has dedicated the exhibition bout, which is for charity and will not be scored and no winner announced, to those who suffered during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Hatton, who has recovered after depression and feeling suicidal following his retirement in 2012, said: "I want to go out and put another show on. That's why I'm doing it, to inspire people.”

Hatton retired in 2012, while Barrera, who was beaten by Amir Khan in 2009, last fought in 2011.

"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 told BBC Sport.

"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'."

Hatton first retired in 2009 after a knockout defeat by Manny Pacquiao.

He eventually ended his career with 45 wins and three losses after being knocked out by Ukraine's Vyacheslav Senchenko in his final fight.

Also featuring on the undercard of Hatton's exhibition is a bout between Hardy and Sanchez, a pair of UFC veterans, neither of whom have boxed professionally. Hardy was forced to retire from fighting in 2013 due to a cardiac ablation, but five years later received medical clearance to compete again.

The Brit has teased a boxing comeback and was linked to a fight with ex-UFC champion Tyron Woodley. His opponent Sanchez was released from the UFC last year after spending 15 years with the promotion.

Sanchez headlined an Eagle FC event, a promotion owned by now-retired UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, last month but lost a unanimous decision to Kevin Lee. The 40-year-old was fighting for the first time in eighteen mont

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