THE domestic middleweight division is the most captivating of all at present, and Ricky Hatton believes Martin Murray is right in there among the top three fighters in Britain.
St Helens star Murray is the current British middleweight champion after his devastating demolition of Nick Blackwell at the Robin Park Arena in Wigan last month.
But also out there are major rivals Brummie Matthew Macklin – who lost agonisingly on a split decision when challenging WBA World champ Felix Sturm 10 days ago – and current European title holder Darren Barker, from London.
Match-ups against either of those two would be a massive affair for Murray (Macklin has already turned down the opportunity to fight him), but for now, Hatton Promotions chief Ricky is just delighted with the progress being made with his so-far unbeaten charge.
Hatton exclusively told the St Helens Reporter: “In a matter of just a couple of years, Martin has gone from being a local lad with lots of talent to a British, Commonwealth and Intercontinental champion ranked in the top 10 by the WBA.
“It shows that people are starting to wake up to the fact that Martin is the real deal, and I do firmly believe that – he is the real deal.
“Certainly Martin displayed a very solid, mature and workmanlike performance against fellow unbeaten hopeful Blackwell in his most recent appearance.
“But as I said before, Martin already has a high world ranking with the WBA.
“He’s now won the Lonsdale belt as British champion too.
“Next time out, we need to look at maybe defending the British and or Commonwealth titles, and look at what openings appear for him.
“Domestically he is in the mix with Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin, who are both world title challengers.
“The middleweight division has always been a great division though.
“There have been some great rivalries with Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Michael Watson and Steve Collins.
“We now have three great British middleweights.
“I think that Martin is hungry, and these are the fights he wants down the line – I think he is ready for Macklin and Barker.
“I’m very excited about Martin, and so are lots of other people.”