- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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When Top Rank's Bob Arum sat with some boxing writers in Las Vegas two weeks ago during the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. promotion, one of things he talked about was the list of potential opponents for welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. for his Dec. 15 HBO date.
One of the names on his list was British contender Kell Brook.
Bradley had hoped to fight a rematch with Manny Pacquiao, but Pacquiao instead opted for a fourth fight on Dec. 8 with Juan Manuel Marquez.
Top Rank did make an offer to Brook, although HBO had not fully signed off on having him as the opponent. Also, Top Rank's offer of about $500,000 was nothing spectacular.
Brook and promoter Eddie Hearn turned it down. Brook already has an Oct. 20 fight in his hometown of Sheffield, England scheduled against Hector Saldivia -- a fight Brook is a heavy favorite in.
Brook-Saldivia is a title eliminator that will give the winner a mandatory shot at titlist Randall Bailey (or Devon Alexander, should Alexander defeat Bailey on Oct. 20 on Showtime).
But why not take a title shot against Bradley rather than fight an eliminator first?
"The Bradley fight was put in front of me, but I believe the mandatory position in the IBF is the right move," Brook said. "Eddie [Hearn] has worked hard to get me into this position and providing I beat Saldivia, I'll be fighting for a world title at the start of 2013, and it will be on my terms. I would love that to be in Sheffield, too, and I know Eddie would do his best to get it here as it would be an amazing event."
Said Hearn, "Top Rank contacted me in August and made us an offer for the Bradley fight. It was a nice ego boost for Kell to be offered a fight of such magnitude, but we begun this journey with a goal of becoming a mandatory challenger and now we are just one win away."
Nice spin from Hearn, since Brook could have had the title shot immediately. But I get it. Brook gets to stay at home -- rather than come to the United States to face Bradley -- and faces Saldivia, which should be an easy win.
Brook can make that payday and then be in position for the title bout, where he is guaranteed at least 25 percent of the money under a potential purse bid and, as a mandatory, won't have to give up options or a rematch clause.
Besides his own upcoming fight, Brook (28-0, 18 KOs) plans to pay close attention to the return of former junior welterweight champion and welterweight titlist Ricky Hatton, who is coming out of retirement in November. Brook, 26, would love a showdown with Hatton, England's biggest boxing star.
"When I fought his brother Matthew you could see that the Hatton name still means a lot in boxing and we would fill a big stadium fighting for a world title," Brook said.
Maybe at some point Ricky will be motivated to avenge his brother's defeat to Brook, who smacked Matthew around for a lopsided decision in March.