Boxing: Brodie sees 'real' world title at end of brutal road

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The Independent Online

"A real fight for a real title," proclaims the promotional blurb for Saturday's return encounter between Michael Brodie and Korean In-Jin Chi for the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight championship at Manchester's MEN Arena.

It seems a particularly apt label in view of the shenanigans surrounding last night's Ricky Hatton affair at the same venue, though the audience for fellow Mancunian Brodie's attempt to better the drawn result he achieved there rather luckily against the naggingly aggressive Chi six months ago is unlikely to be of the same size.

"Whatever they may say about Hatton, this kid's the most exciting fighter in Britain," claims Brodie's veteran manager, Jack Trickett. Unfortunately, his box-office appeal is not quite on the same scale, although Trickett says £30,000 worth of tickets have already been sold for a fight that cannot fail to be anything less than one of savage intensity.

When the pair last fought, something didn't quite add up, and it turned out to be the scorecards. After watching Chi's hand raised, Brodie was then told in the dressing room that it was actually a draw. The promoter, Barry Hearn, had pressured the WBC president, Jose Sulaiman, into re-examining the cards, which showed that Brodie had wrongly been deducted a point.

Hence the rematch, and perhaps a final opportunity for the 29-year-old Brodie to make the name for himself that his family and followers believe he deserves.

Brodie's career, indeed life, has been marked by misfortune. His mother died when he was 12, and he was brought up by a brother. His marriage broke up a year ago and he is going through a divorce.

In the ring, he was on the receiving end of a shocking split decision when the American Willie Jorrin was awarded the WBC title after an epic battle in Manchester three years ago. It remains his only defeat in 35 bouts. "In my own mind, I've never been beat," he says.

Moreover, he has been disgracefully messed around by former amateur rival Naseem Hamed, who has repeatedly broken pledges to meet him. The former champion is said to be back in training - again - but Trickett says: "Whether he will ever see nine stone again is debatable." The promo video for Saturday's fight concludes with a shot of Brodie, his battered face like a gargoyle, one eye closed and blood streaming from a head gash. Earlier we had been asked: "Do you remember how boxing used to be?"

In Brodie's case it is too frequently how boxing used to be. His fights are inevitably raw and brutal, and Saturday's second helping against the redoubtable Chi will be no exception, though Brodie vows his tactics will be different. "I'll push him on the back foot and be too strong for him."

The hope is he will win through and perhaps fight Hamed's nemesis, Marco Antonio Barrera, or sort out some overdue domestic differences with Scott Harrison. Then some of the Hatton hoopla might settle on his shoulders.

"Mikie is worth more recognition than he gets," says the 72-year-old Trickett. "Ricky Hatton's a great kid, but what's his WBU belt worth? We spar with better men than the ones he's been knocking out. Some of them buggers are as old as me. It would be great to go out with a proper world title."