MANY in the fight game have mixed feelings about Ricky Hatton’s in-ring return this weekend, but not St Joseph’s puncher Mitchell Buckland.
The exciting lightweight prospect, younger brother of British champion Gary, was still a schoolboy the last time the Hitman laced them up professionally.
One of the most popular British boxers of his generation, Hatton returns to boxing for the first time since 2009 on Saturday at the Manchester Arena (formerly the M.E.N Arena) to take on Vyacheslav Senchenko.
And that’s presented a big opportunity for both Bucklands to catch the eye, Gary defending his titles against Stephen Foster Jr and Mitchell competing for the fourth time on a packed undercard.
Still only 19-years old, the youngster admits the thought of competing on the same bill as Hatton is the biggest thrill of his career to date.
“It’s unbelievable for me to be involved in a Ricky Hatton bill, what an experience, it doesn’t get much bigger than that, it’s wonderful for me, a real dream come true.
“I watched him as a kid and never even dreamed I’d share a bill with him and yet here we are.
“Ricky did so much to inspire so many people and being a part of his big night is a real thrill.”
The younger Buckland is finding it less daunting to share a bill with his older brother.
“It’s coming naturally to me, so far, pro boxing and I enjoy sharing the stage with my brother, I’ve been on a couple of his undercards now,” he said.
“I know the Hatton Promotion people have good faith in both of us and I’m aiming to keep improving.
“We aren’t rushing, but by June next year I’d like to go for a Welsh title, then a Celtic one and when I’m 20 or 21 a British title.”