Doug Fischer

Alvarez-Hatton will be for vacant WBC title

Junior middleweight contender Saul Alvarez and European welterweight champ Matthew Hatton both predicted an entertaining fight to reporters participating in a Wednesday conference call to promote their 150-pound catchweight bout on March 5.

However, when a sports writer from Mexico announced that the fight would be for the vacant WBC junior middleweight title during the call — an announcement later confirmed on the call by Golden Boy Promotions, Alvarez’s promoter — the two fighters gained even more motivation to bring their A-games to the HBO-televised bout, which takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

“Wow, that’s great news,” Alvarez (35-0-1, 26 knockouts), a wildly popular 20-year-old fighter from Jalisco, Mexico, said through interpreter Eric Gomez. “I’m very motivated now. This will be my first world title.”

Hatton, the 29-year-old younger brother of Ricky Hatton, who was as popular in England as Alvarez is in Mexico (if not more so), was just as excited and a bit more loquacious than the young Mexican.

“That’s fantastic news,” said Hatton (41-4-2, 16 KOs). “Every kid who’s ever laced on a pair of boxing gloves, that’s their ambition [to win a world title]. I’ve been dominating the European scene for several months now, so I feel I’m ready. It makes me more motivated to fulfill my childhood dream.

“I wish the fight was next week, I wish I was getting on a plane now.”

The World Boxing Council recently voted to strip Manny Pacquiao of their 154-pound belt, which the Filipino icon won when he dominated Antonio Margarito to a unanimous decision victory last November. Pacquiao and his handlers announced after the fight, which was for the vacant belt, that he would no longer campaign above 147 pounds.

Before the WBC stripped Pacquiao of their belt, they yanked it from Sergio Martinez shortly after the Argentine won the middleweight championship from Kelly Pavlik last April (even though Martinez hadn’t made up his mind which weight class he would campaign in). Many fans and boxing writers criticized the Mexico-based sanctioning organization’s decision to put the vacant belt up for grabs for the Pacquiao-Margarito winner in light of the fact that neither fighter had accomplished anything at 154 pounds.

The same could be said for both Alvarez and Hatton. Although Alvarez had a few notable victories at junior middlewieght, including a spectacular KO of former welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir last September, the young man was considered a prospect until the very end of 2010. Hatton’s body of work is at welterweight.

However, the Manchester native is more than happy to go with the flow and honor the WBC’s decision.

“You never know what’s going to happen in boxing,” Hatton said. “You can’t predict it, really, but after the progress I’ve had lately, I feel ready (to fight for a world title).”

Even if that title is in a heavier weight class than he’s used to fighting.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me, and I’m a big welterweight,” said Hatton who has fought as heavy as 157½ pounds and weighed 151¼ for a fight last February. “I don’t think going up in weight will be a problem. I was ranked No. 5 (by the WBC at 147 pounds), and I know Saul is rated No. 1 (by the WBC at 154 pounds). So he rightly deserves a (title) shot and I think my credentials speak for itself. I think I’m worthy of fighting for a world championship.”

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