Boxing: Warren confirms major bouts

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The Independent Online

Frank Warren finally confirmed two of boxing's worst kept secrets when he announced that Ricky Hatton will fight Junior Witter and Joe Calzaghe will meet the American Bernard Hopkins this year.

Hatton and Witter will fight in March at the MEN Arena in Manchester in separate fights before a showdown at Maine Road in July. Their fight at the Manchester City football stadium will be the last sporting event at the historic venue before the club moves to the Commonwealth Stadium on the other side of the city.

Calzaghe will fight the American, Thomas Tate, in Cardiff in April and then will meet Hopkins, who is the undisputed middleweight champion of the world, later in the year.

Both fights have been mentioned during the past six months, but Warren's admission yesterday was the first time that he has officially said they will both happen.

The Hatton fight in March and the Calzaghe fight in April and their respective major fights later in the year will attract a total crowd of in excess of 120,000, which is a figure Warren is keen to use as a natural defence against certain boxing old-timers who insist that the sport is in decline.

"Hatton against Witter and Calzaghe against Hopkins are the type of fights that stand the test of time and this year will be, I'm sure, one of the very best in British boxing history,'' said Warren.

In addition to the series of fights involving Hatton and Calzaghe, there is the added bonus of a renaissance in Scotland, where Scott Harrison will defend his World Boxing Organisation featherweight title against Belfast's Wayne McCulloch in front of nearly 10,000 fans on 22 March.

Harrison won the title against all odds last October and Warren is confident that after facing McCulloch, the Glaswegian fighter will become a stadium attraction.