by Geoff Poundes
This evening at the Sheffield Motorpoint Arena Kell “Special K” Brook at last confirmed his early promise by comprehensively outpointing Ricky’s younger brother Matthew Hatton over twelve one-sided rounds.
Barry Hearn’s Matchroom promotion had made much pre-fight of the origins of these two English warriors, so that the fight took place in a highly charged atmosphere in keeping with its War of The Roses tag.
In the event Brook, now 27-0, 18 KOs, simply proved too slick and too fast for the ever-willing Hatton, who plugged away earnestly from first to last bell, but was always missing that little bit of class needed to convert a good fighter into a great one. He was blitzed in every round and took an eight count at the start of the ninth from a Brook countering left hook. Hatton’s only moment of success came when he had Brook slightly discomfited in the tenth from his own left hook but Brook quickly re-established his jab and left-right combinations and then he battered Matthew to all corners of the ring in the eleventh. In truth, Brook was in control throughout, and often over the thirty-six minutes had the granite-jawed Hatton in trouble and disorganised. I couldn’t find a round for Hatton, and the judges were in somewhat agreement, turning in scores of 118-109, 119-108, and 118-108.
Unfortunately, at this level Hatton’s chief weapons are grit and a stubborn obstinacy, and he kept Brook honest even if he failed to force the Sheffield man beyond third gear. Brook may feel he should have stopped Hatton to cement his reputation across the Atlantic, but he was nonetheless satisfied with his night’s work.
“Class tells. What a gallant effort from Matthew. I did catch him with a few – I had some nerves boxing in front of 10,000 people but I absorbed it all and performed in the ring.”
Earlier, Brook had arrived at the arena in a sleek black Rolls-Royce, number plate “Special 1”, and for once a fighter fully merited that kind of ostentatious hype.
On the undercard, the much-touted Grzegor Proksa had a desperately tough time with challenger Kerry Hope, and was adjudged the loser over twelve hard rounds in defence of his European middleweight crown. Proksa was inconvenienced in the 2nd round when a clash of heads opened a wide gash over his left eye, and he never really came to terms with the injury, and never settled as the less talented Hope put him under sustained pressure, and had good moments in the fight, particularly in the sixth round, when he swapped bombs with the champion on equal terms. Hope had a point deducted in the ninth for a blatant butt he’d aimed at Proksa’s cut on the bell to end the eighth, and from that point on Proksa looked strangely tired and shaky on his legs, so that he spent prolonged periods in the fight with his back to the ropes while Hope pumped out punches. The champion was desperately tired at the end, but to his credit he dug in to win the last round.
Nonetheless, Hope was awarded the decision by scores of 114-114, 115-112, and 114-113. Proksa had won his title at the end of last year with a hugely impressive third round stoppage of Sebastian Sylvester in Germany, and this was his first loss in 28 fights. Hope performed out of his skin on the night and improves to 17-3, 1 KO and can now call himself a European champion.
Earlier, highly regarded Ulsterman and Commonwealth super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton, 13-0, 9 KOs, turned back the challenge of Ghanaian Prospect Ankrah in quick time and as expected. Ankrah was clearly in over his head from the first bell, and was despatched in the second round with a short left hook. Frampton’s British rivals Scott Quigg and Rendall Munroe look like they’re set to square off later in the year, and Frampton will be watching that fight closely with a view to sharing a ring with the winner.