SHEFFIELD boxing hero Kell Brook has vowed stop Matthew Hatton on Saturday night as a step towards a world title shot - possibly back in his home city, he told pal Ryan Rhodes at the weigh-in,
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch digital editor Graham Walker’s video report fom the weigh-in at Meadowhall shopping centre and Brook’s chat with Rhodes.
Manchester veteran Hatton (10st 6lbs 9oz), who was earlier told by Brook (10st 6lbs 4oz) that he would be “smashed”, hit back as they posed for photos at the weigh-in and clearly whispered: “You’re going to get knocked out.”
But Brook is the bookies favourite ahead of their War Of The Roses clash, for the WBA Inter-Continental and IBF International Welterweight titles at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena.
And in an exclusive Star with long-time friend Rhodes, Brook was in confident mood and said: “My training has gone great. I’ve been training hard for this fight.
“I’m looking at stopping him. I don’t want it to go 12 rounds. I’ve trained for 12 rounds but I’m expecting to stop him.
“Looking past Matthew Hatton I can see a world title. Or some big American names that people have heard of.”
The unbeaten Sheffield fighter admits though that he is taking a risk by facing such a dangerous opponent as Manchester veteran Hattion, when he is so close to a world title opportunity.
He took the fight rather than push on with negotiations for a shot at one of the major belts.
But the 25-year-old insists it is a gamble worth taking should he deliver on his promise to “smash” Hatton and make a statement against a fighter respected across the world.
Brook (26-0, 18KOs) said: “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.
“That’s the plan, to get the world title fight and pack it out again, big-time. I can’t wait. I can’t wait to hear the fans chanting my name on Saturday night. I’ll absorb it all and get in there and really turn it on.
“This is like a dress rehearsal for a world title fight. It’s a taste of what a world title fight will be like.
“Matthew boxed at world level last year when he lost to (WBC light-middleweight champion) Saul Alvarez; I’m ranked in the top 10 of the governing bodies so this puts me in good stead for that.”
Brook will start as the heavy favourite with bookmakers pricing Hatton as generously as 15/2. 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’ etcetera.
“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.
“I think it’ll be a great atmosphere. I’ve got some support myself in Sheffield so it’ll be good and I think the fight will live up to expectations.”
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.