The 44-year-old Hatton was back in the ring for the first time in almost 10 years as he faced the 48-year-old Barrera in eight two-minute rounds.
Hatton's 45-3 professional record was not affected by the bout, which had no scoring and no official winner declared.
But the former world champions put on a show for a raucous crowd and Hatton claimed the night was up there with the most famous bouts from his career.
The Mancunian told Sky Sports: "(We got) everything and more. Me and Marco are friends but we're proud men and with such a big crowd in, getting behind me, sometimes I thought how it would go if it got a bit heated, but it was entertaining and everything we wanted.
"I've done loads of good things in boxing, the Kostya Tszyu night here when I won my world title, the fights in Vegas which all these fans went to watch me, absolutely brilliant… but, with the stage I'm at in my life, this is up there as one of the best."
Hatton, who last fought in November 2012 when he lost to Vyacheslav Senchenko before announcing his retirement, said he had lost nearly four stones for the bout.
He was introduced to a loud reception while the familiar sound of Blue Moon rang out and he poked fun at himself by using a walking frame flanked by two individuals in nurses outfits as he entered the arena.
But he quickly showed he had got himself into fighting shape by displaying quick footwork and throwing the better of the punches in the opening round.
The pace may have been slower than Hatton's famous nights in the arena, but the duo put on a show for the capacity crowd, with Barrera landing a nice uppercut in the second round.
The punches were connecting and Hatton was showing some swelling under his right eye as the fight passed the halfway stage.
And the pair kept trading punches right up to the bell in the eighth round, before they embraced in the middle of the ring and posed with the British and Mexican flags.
Through a translator Barrera said: "I was happy. My thanks to Ricky, thank you for having me in the ring.
"It's a celebration, we're happy for the people that showed up and we're happy that we made it happen."
Earlier, Liverpool's Natasha Jonas added another super-welterweight title to her collection by beating Marie-Eve Dicaire by unanimous decision.
The 38-year-old claimed Dicaire's IBF title to go with her WBC and WBO crowns as she improved her professional record to 13-2-1.