(Matthew Hatton takes a right from Kell Brook)
It resembled a game of "Time Crisis" at Sheffield’s sold-out Motorpoint Arena on Saturday evening as Kell Brook played Matthew Hatton like he was a light gun arcade machine at the local multiplex rather than his opponent in a high stakes welterweight boxing match. Hatton, who did his very best, found himself blasted no matter what he attempted as Brook, who is as comfortable in a prize ring as a purpose-made protective cup, dominated him for round after round. Those seeking to split hairs in the aftermath will argue that Brook hit a plateau after halfway and should, if he intends to make a dent up at world level, have upped the ante sufficiently to put “Magic Man” Matthew out of his misery. Minor quibbles aside, though, the 12 rounds he bagged here will prove useful for the trials that lie ahead.
Brook claimed centre ring from the bell and found his range with hair-trigger right hands that bloodied Hatton’s nose and kept it trickling for the remainder of the contest. Hatton, a rank outsider, didn't land a retaliatory lick until round 3 when a half-decent swipe only served to anger the home fighter. Significantly disadvantaged in terms of speed, Hatton was in a pickle. If he held his guard in front of his face in order to ward off the terse one-twos Brook was smacking into it with impunity, he’d find himself stung with hooks around the side and vice versa. Even when Hatton dipped and tilted his head in a bid to mount a testudo, Brook would stop him dead with heavy punches aimed into the one section of his head that wasn’t covered. It was a thankless task.
The Stockport man was beaten up in rounds 5 and 6, had his legs stiffened in the 8th and was dumped onto his pants in round 9 when a counter left hook pushed his own glove into his mug and knocked him off balance. To his credit he managed to rally in the 10th -- a scrappy affair during which he landed a hard left hook which ultimately came to nothing. Tottering on wooden legs throughout the final two, his ability to Sellotape himself to Brook combined with the fussy interventions of referee Marcus McDonnell, granted him safe passage to the scorecards which went against him 118-109, 119-108 and 119-107.
Brook moves on to 27-0 (19) with another comfortable win and hunts a crack at Bolton rival Amir Khan although a meeting with the winner of the upcoming Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz rematch would also make for attractive fare.
Carl Frampton managed to outdo Muhammad Ali in the chief supporting bout after ridding himself of overmatched Ghanaian Prosper Ankrah using a phantom four-punch combination. Ankrah, here due to the shoddy ranking system of the Commonwealth Boxing Council, ran for his life in the opener and then feigned a knockout in round 2 when the Belfast man’s hammer fists whistled too close to him for comfort. Referee Howard Foster called time at 2:45 and Frampton rolls on to 13-0 (9).
Merthyr Tydfil’s Kerry Hope was the story of the night after he clinched a monumental upset victory over the unbeaten and highly touted European middleweight champion Grzegorz Proksa. A one-sided encounter on paper span on a sixpence in round 2 when a clash of heads gored the Surrey based Pole over his left eye. Proksa immediately panicked and, in his haste to close the show, dripped a Jackson Pollock homage in blood across the rectangular white advert in the middle of the ring. Hope, though, had hit paydirt and he knew it. The Welshman held firm and battled hard to grab a tetchy majority decision win which he almost contrived to throw away after attempting to stick the nut on Proksa at the end of round 8. Scores read 115-112, 114-113 and 114-114 and while Proksa will almost certainly come again, Hope can now look forward to the decent payday his sterling effort should merit. Hope rises to 17-3 (1) while Proksa slips to 26-1 (19).