Kell Brook has put his world title plans on hold in order to meet domestic rival Matthew Hatton in March and prove which of them is Britain’s top welterweight.
Hatton was yesterday confirmed as Brook’s opponent at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield on March 17 as both men look to earn world title shots in the near future.
Unbeaten Yorkshireman Brook has momentum on his side as he looks to elevate himself to elite level, while Mancunian Hatton has the experience having unsuccessfully challenged WBC light-middleweight champion Saul Alvarez last year.
Both can lay claim to being Britain’s top welterweight and will have a chance to prove it in two months’ time in what will be an intriguing Roses clash.
Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been steering his man towards a title challenge since last year but revealed the chance to top the bill at a big venue, in what could be a massive contest, was too good to miss.
Hearn has no qualms about him headlining at Sheffield Arena, which is expected to be set up to hold around 9,000 fans.
“This is exactly the kind of fight we want to start making in this country,” he said.
“It is a fight that captures the imagination. Kell is coming along at the perfect rate with the perfect fights and this will build into a huge event for British boxing.
“We were in talks with a couple of world champions but we looked at the fights and none of them really captured the imagination like this fight.
“It was an opportunity to kick Matthew out of the world title picture, really, and make us the big name that everybody wants to fight.”
Brook revealed at a press conference yesterday the mind games began before Christmas when Hatton, while out drinking with mutual friends and fellow fighters Ryan Rhodes and Curtis Woodhouse, called him on his mobile.
“I got a drunken phone call off Matthew before Christmas,” Brook (26-0, 18KOs) said.
“It was funny, it was a comical message, saying he’s ‘got the tools to beat me’ and all this malarkey.
“He was being quite funny to be honest. You could tell he’d had a skinful and it was just comical.”
Hatton (42-5-2, 16 KO wins) confirmed it was all good natured.
“It was just a bit of Christmas cheer, really,” the 30-year-old explained. “I was with a few of Kell’s friends from Sheffield, Ryan Rhodes and Curtis Woodhouse, and it was just a bit of banter.
“It’s done no harm because we’re here today and the fight is on.
“It was all friendly enough, there was no heavy breathing or anything like that!
“We were in talks for the fight anyway and it was just a bit of fun. The fact he didn’t answer the phone could be to do with the fact he was on a plane coming back from America, so I don’t read too much into that.”