Ricky Hatton says Kell Brook will shine in his first IBF World Welterweight title defence this weekend.
Hatton also reckons Brook will land the big-money fights he is chasing as he takes on number one mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan in ‘Unbreakable’, at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday.
Brook defends the belt he ripped from Shawn Porter in Los Angeles last summer, and former two-weight World champion Hatton has added his name to the list of fighting stars impressed with ‘The Special One’s win.
‘The Hitman’ boxed both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in World Welterweight blockbusters in America and the Manchester hero believes a big performance from Brook in the Steel City next Saturday will set him on the path to blockbuster fights this year.
“I was very impressed with the way Kell won his World title,” said Hatton.
“I know as well as anyone how hard it is to go to America and beat one of their champions and, although it was quite a close fight, Kell was exceptional.
“He’s had a few problems out of the ring in the past couple of months, but that’s just made him hungrier for success and it seems like everyone in Sheffield is getting behind him now.
“A lot of people might not know much about his opponent, but you don’t get to be a mandatory challenger without being a World class fighter and he’ll give his all. That said, I think Kell will shine and then move on to those big fights he’s chasing for later in the year.”
Hatton has a vested interest on the huge Sheffield bill as his local favourite Adam Etches defends his IBF International Middleweight title against dangerous Belarussian Sergei Khomitsky. Unbeaten 24 year old Etches claimed the title on home turf with a third round stoppage win over Samir Barbosa in September, and a successful defence should see Etches move into the top ten with IBF.
Khomitsky will have other ideas though and having stopped another young Brit Middleweight contender in Frank Buglioni in his last fight in England in April, Hatton knows that while Khomitsky poses a real threat, a win for Etches would be huge.
“This is a very tough fight for Adam,” said Hatton. “Khomitsky has mixed it with all the top Middleweights and it isn’t that long ago he gave Martin Murray a hell of a fight.
“I think this is a chance for Adam to really show what he’s capable of. Everyone knows how hard he hits, but with this guy he’ll have to use his boxing skills as well. People don’t usually pick Khomitsky as an opponent so this shows how confident Adam is.
“I think he’ll win in style and send a message out to all the other British middleweights. He’s already ranked number 11 by the IBF so winning here will put him into the top ten and, who knows, we could have another Sheffield boxer in a World title fight before long.”
Brook and Etches’ title defences are part of a massive night of boxing in Sheffield, where Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell challenges Oleksandr Yegorov for the vacant European Super Bantamweight title.
Frankie Gavin makes his Sky Sports return as he prepares for his crunch clash with Chris van Heerden on May 9 in Birmingham and former World Bantamweight king Anselmo Moreno makes his UK debut against Wales’ Robbie Turley. Kal Yafai continues his march towards a World title and GB Podium squad member Charlie Edwards fights for the second time in the paid ranks on the bill.
Limited tickets for ‘Unbreakable’ presented by FX World are on sale priced £40, £60, £80, £100 and £150 available from the Motorpoint Arena on 0114 2565656 and at www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk. VIP tickets at £250 are exclusively available from Matchroom Boxing at www.matchroomboxing.com.