The Pugilist

‘Special One’ could be ‘The One’ for Hatton

The Pugilist

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Kell Brook

When a boxer spends their early years as a professional closely protected by big-time promoters and takes nickname inspiration from Jose Mourinho, it can be tough to win fans over.

But Kell Brook is finally doing just that some 28 undefeated bouts into his career. The 26-year-old is seeking a big British battle with the returning Ricky Hatton as his reward.

Hatton has other work to attend to before that becomes a possibility after it was confirmed today that Vyacheslav Senchenko would face  'The Hitman' in his return bout in Manchester.

A shrewd choice as 'The Ukraine Master' is far from a sack of potatoes having held the WBA welterweight title. Yet pairing Hatton with anyone bigger for his first fight in three and a half years would be both a risk and a tragic waste of an additional box office bonanza.

But while many view Hatton versus Amir Khan as the endgame to this second run, Brook has spent the past few months making a far better case to take the job than 'King' Khan.

Brook raised eyebrows in July when he unified his WBA Intercontinental welterweight title with the IBF equivalent in outpointing American Carson Jones.

It was not the title v title scenario which made the bout stand out, nor its billing as a penultimate eliminator to decide a challenger to Randall Bailey's IBF world championship.

It was the sheer hell 'Special K' endured as the bruiser Jones roughed him up and busted him open in search of the KO that would have cancelled out Brook's superior showing in the first half of the fight.

Argentina's Hector Saldivia is now the final stop before world title contention on October 20th in Sheffield, but Brook and promoters Matchroom revealed this week that a faster route to becoming champion was put his way.

'The Special One' was sounded out by Timothy Bradley, WBO welterweight champion and controversial conqueror of Manny Pacquiao in June, as a credible yet low-risk title defence.
Camp Brook, wisely, responded to the offer with a polite 'no'.

In coasting through the typical (but tried and tested) mollycoddled start to life as a professional, Brook drew the usual cynicism from those who did not fancy his chances against dangerous opposition.

Nor did the man himself, in fairness. He knew his career climb would be a long game.

The same questions posed towards every hyped British rookie climbing the ladder have slowly but surely been answered, but doubts were truly broken down by the Jones fight.

In showing a toughness never before seen, Brook proved he is no promotional tool, even if he still has plenty of room for improvement.

And his incentive to get past Saldivia and unseat Bailey could not be any more appealing than the chance to then offer Hatton the world title shot he seeks after a few bouts back, especially at the expense of rival Khan.

Amir and Kell have traded heated words in the past and with Khan falling victim to poor career and tactical decisions against Danny Garcia, Brook's sidestep of Bradley will become the ultimate one-up over his struggling peer should he eventually get the big British showdown with Hatton.

If all goes to plan, a 30-0 Brook defending the IBF welterweight title against Hatton in late 2013 would elevate the 26-year-old and offer the 'Pride of Hyde' that honourable career climax he claims to crave.

Think about it: the domestic meeting of 'young lion v old lion', generation against generation.

Yorkshire v Lancashire, the second Brook-Hatton installment of the 'War of the Roses' after Kell defeated Ricky's brother Matthew earlier this year.

In fact, even if 'The Hitman' were to lose such a fight were it to take place, it is fair to presume it would be a much better last hurrah than the Pacquiao mauling was.

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