Matthew Hatton has brushed aside controversy from South Yorkshire boxing circles surrounding his surprise world title shot.
Hatton, the European welterweight champion, will face highly-rated Mexican youngster Saul Alvarez for the vacant WBC light-middleweight championship in California on March 5. The WBC stripped the title from Filipino Manny Pacquiao and last week sanctioned the Alvarez-Hatton bout to decide its new champion. As when Pacquiao demolished Antonio Margarito over 12 rounds to claim the belt last November, the bout will take place at a catchweight of 150lb, 4lb below the light-middleweight limit.
That, along with the fact that both Hatton and Alvarez have campaigned for the majority of their careers at welterweight, has led many to question the legitimacy of the contest. Rotherham’s David Coldwell, trainer of the WBC’s number-four-ranked light-middleweight Ryan Rhodes has called the situation “boxing politics at its worst”.
Hatton, 29, is unperturbed by concerns emanating from the Sheffield fighter’s camp. “I’ve not been getting involved in all that and let’s be clear, I took the fight before it was a world title fight because it’s a great opportunity,” Hatton said.
“I was prepared to take on Alvarez at a catchweight of 150lb, so I think my bravery in taking a fight like this at a weight up has been rewarded.”
Pacquiao’s wins over Miguel Cotto and Margarito, along with Floyd Mayweather’s return to boxing against Juan Manuel Marquez in November 2009, have brought catchweight contests - those from outside the familiar weight classes - to prominence in boxing.
Opinion is divided on their impact upon the sport, but Hatton is comfortable with the concept.
The Mancunian added: “The weight has got to suit both fighters and if it’s a fight that people want to see - and people do want to see this fight - I don’t see a problem in fights taking place at catchweight.”