Boxing


Matthew Hatton Wins Vacant European Welterweight Title With UD Over Gianluca Branco

by James Slater - Tonight, in Essex, UK, "Magic" Matthew Hatton scored the biggest win of his pro career as he clearly out-pointed hugely experienced Italian veteran Gianluca Branco over 12-rounds to win the vacant European welterweight crown.

The 28-year-old Manchester man, brother, of course, of Ricky Hatton, won via a UD with scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113. Now 39-4-2(15), the younger Hatton brother proved he is a world class fighter in his own right. Branco, a former European champ at light-welterweight as well as being a former two-time "world" title challenger, fell to 43-3-1(22)..

Taking the fight on relative short notice, Hatton took full advantage of his big opportunity. Branco, having his first fight since July of last year and moving up to 147-pounds, may have seen better days, but his vast knowledge made some people feel he would school Hatton. Instead, aside from in a couple of rounds in which he really forced himself to work, Branco was pretty much outboxed all night.

The action was lively from the start and both men came out fast in the 1st-round. Hatton's left jab got to work, while Branco, in one of only two rounds I gave him, caught the younger man with a hard right hand to the head in the opener.

Looking rock solid physically at age 39, the Italian who had only previously lost to Arturo Gatti and Miguel Cotto soon began to show his age, however. Much the slower man and becoming frustrated at times because of his inability to get off, Branco was soon an unhappy man. Hatton, on the other hand, has never looked better; his left jab in particular looking fast, accurate and snappy.

Aside from the 1st, an 8th-round I scored even and an 11th-round that saw Branco really go for it as he knew he was way behind on points, I never had Hatton putting a foot wrong tonight. Again, Branco may be getting on in years, but nothing should be taken away from "Magic's" excellent showing.

Cheered on by big brother/promoter Ricky, the 28-year-old peppered Branco with combinations to the head all night, in possession of superior reflexes as he was. There was no real standout round in terms of action, but the fight was never dull. The Italian tried his best and never gave up, but he was simply too slow on the whole.

A nasty swelling under Branco's right eye was looking angry in the later rounds, the final session especially, and the visiting fighter knew he needed a KO to get the win. To his credit, Branco tried to get it in the 11th-round. But Hatton was not about to throw his victory away, and he retained his composure and kept both hands working himself. The last round was quite close, but I had Hatton shading it.

A very worthy winner, Hatton was rightfully proud if his victory. As was a relieved Ricky Hatton, who admits it is a nerve-wracking experience for him whenever he watches his brother box. Matthew may never reach the heights Ricky did, but he proved tonight he is a fine fighter in his own right. Indeed, Hatton's defence was so good (those brief scares in the 1st and 11th-rounds aside), he barely had a mark on him after tonight's win.

Article posted on 27.03.2010



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