KELL Brook has vowed to thrive on the pressure of topping the bill in front of 10,000 fans when he fights Matthew Hatton in his home city of Sheffield tonight.
The unbeaten South Yorkshireman takes on Manchester veteran Hatton in an intriguing welterweight battle at the Steel City’s Arena.
Brook admits he is taking a risk by facing such a dangerous opponent when he is so close to a world title opportunity, having revealed he took a fight with Hatton rather than push on with negotiations for a shot at one of the major belts.
However, the 25-year-old insists it is a risk worth taking should he deliver on his promise to “smash” Hatton and make a statement against a fighter respected across the world.
Brook, who has attracted a crowd of nearly 10,000 to his hometown venue, told said: “There’s pressure on me now because of all the tickets I’ve sold and the profile of the fight.
“But I thrive on that pressure. It’s going to be a proper fight that lives up to the hype and the expectation levels.
“They’ve called it ‘War of the Roses’ and, believe you me, we’re going to get in there and have one hell of a fight.
“When all’s said and done you’re going to see an explosive fight.
“It’s a risk because we didn’t need to take this fight but I wanted it. It’s captured the public’s imagination, it’s been on the horizon for years and we’ve finally got it on.”
Brook (26-0, 18KOs) added: “We’ve sold around 10,000 tickets for this and you start wondering how much demand there would be to see a world title fight in Sheffield.”
Brook will start as the heavy favourite with bookmakers pricing Hatton as generously as 6-1. Hatton (42-5-2, 16KOs) has concealed any irritation at being regarded as such a glaring underdog.
“All the pressure is on Kell, going into this fight,” he said. “He’s the man fighting at home, he’s the favourite to win, and he puts even more pressure on himself by making comments like he’s been making, about ‘smashing me’ et cetera.
“There’s no pressure on me. Talk is cheap, and I’ll do my talking on Saturday night. He’s been making a lot of big noises and he’s got to back it up now.
“I don’t dislike Kell Brook. He’s just in the way of what I want to achieve in the sport in order to provide myself and my family with a better life.
“He’ll just be brushed aside on Saturday night. It’s not personal.”
On the undercard in South Yorkshire, exciting super-bantamweight prospect Carl Frampton, from Belfast, defends his Commonwealth crown against Prosper Ankrah, while Surrey-based Pole Grzegorz Proksa defends his European middleweight title against Wales’ Kerry Hope.