Boxing: Dispute no distraction, says Hatton

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The Independent Online

Warren had first promised Hatton the prestigious Lonsdale belt in November 2000 when he persuaded the boxer to relinquish his British title and therefore end any chance of winning the belt outright.

At the time Warren had a world title fight for Hatton and the pair agreed to pursue the World Boxing Union light welterweight title and walk away from the British version.

"After the Kostya Tszyu fight in June, Frank called up and asked me and my dad to go down and see him because he had the Lonsdale belt for us," Hatton said. The meeting was the last time that the boxer and the promoter met face to face and it was the starting point for the litigation and separation which followed.

Hatton, 27, will fight for the first time for a different promoter when he attempts to unify the world titles in a meeting with World Boxing Association incumbent Carlos Maussa in Sheffield on 26 November. Warren recently dropped an injunction aimed at preventing that fight taking place and agreed to pay Hatton £40,000 in legal costs.

Hatton insists that the two months of potential legal action has not disrupted preparation and that Maussa has been the only thing on his mind since the fight was signed at the start of September.

The British welterweight champion Michael Jennings defends his title for the first time when he meets Bradley Pryce at the Guild Hall in Preston tonight.

Jennings won the vacant title in July with an impressive first-round stoppage of the usually durable Jimmy Vincent.

Pryce lost in a British welterweight title fight in 2003 and has had a rough time since but he is still capable of pulling off a shock. The winner could find himself moving closer to a World Boxing Union challenge against either Eamonn McGee or the exotically named Takaloo, who will meet on 10 December.

In many ways the British welterweight division is one of the best, because in addition to McGee, Takaloo, Pryce and Jennings there are three or four others at a similar level and it is not clear who is the best.

Most are promoted by Warren, so there is every chance that they could be paired in a series of intriguing fights.