• Boxing

Hatton goes after Pacquiao's belt

ESPN staff
February 17, 2011
Matthew Hatton is confident he can defeat Saul Alvarez to take the vacant WBC light-middleweight belt © Getty Images

Matthew Hatton, brother of former light-welterweight champion Ricky, has been given the chance to win Manny Pacquiao's vacated WBC light-middleweight title when he fights Saul Alvarez on March 5.

Pacquiao, who defeated Ricky in Las Vegas back in 2009, won the title after coming through a gruelling bout with Antonio Margarito late last year. But the Filipino has opted to forgo a defence of the crown in order to fight Shane Mosley at his preferred welterweight class, resulting in the WBC stripping him of his crown and upgrading the pre-arranged fight between 29-year-old Hatton and Alvarez to a title fight.

European welterweight champion Hatton, who has long awaited a title shot, will move up a weight class in order to face Alvarez, who has never been beaten in his 36 professional fights to date.

"At lot of the boxing people do regard the WBC title as the main title out there," Hatton told Sky Sports. "This fight I agreed to about seven weeks ago, I knew what I was up against. I think accepting a fight against an undefeated fighter like Alvarez, I think that bravery has been rewarded with an opportunity to fight for a title."

Hatton will now head off to California to begin his training camp, hoping to acclimatise to conditions on American soil. With the fight set to take place in Anaheim - where Hatton is well aware Alvarez is likely to enjoy far greater support - the Stockport-born brawler maintains a partisan crowd will not worry him.

"I'm training very hard at the minute, working on a gameplan," Hatton said. "Alvarez is an excellent young fighter. But I'm not going out there just to make up the numbers, just to pick up a paycheck - I want to be the world champion and I believe I can do that.

"It's going to be a hostile atmosphere. I'm certainly not losing any sleep over that. The best fighter will win, and I think that'll be me."

Having spent much of his career in the shadow of brother Ricky, Hatton admits it would be great to emerge as a respected fighter in his own right - something he feels he could now achieve as Ricky never won a WBC crown.

"That'd be nice [to make a name for himself], I know I am a big underdog in this fight but strange things can happen in boxing and you never know," he noted. "If I do win the fight and take the belt, then perhaps I'll let Ricky come and have a picture with it!"

Alvarez, who has drawn just one fight in an otherwise imperious career to date, is delighted to be given the opportunity to challenge for the vacant crown.

"This is a great opportunity and an honour," the 20-year-old said. "I said that I wanted to fight for a world title in 2011 and now the opportunity has arrived.""

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