Boxing: Hatton in need of a tougher examination

As expected there was a full house, a predictable fight and the usual bold claims once the last bell had sounded at the MEN Arena, Manchester, on Saturday night.

As expected there was a full house, a predictable fight and the usual bold claims once the last bell had sounded at the MEN Arena, Manchester, on Saturday night.

Ricky Hatton retained his World Boxing Union light-welterweight title for the 13th time with a lopsided points decision against the durable but unimaginative Argentinian Carlos Wilfredo Vilches.

When it was over the endless list of claims on Hatton's behalf was made by his promoter, Frank Warren, but for chroniclers of the sport the words are annoyingly familiar. Warren controls the careers of both Hatton and Joe Calzaghe and both, according to the promoter, have been destined for big fights against world-class fighters for simply too long.

Warren's plan now for Hatton is for a fight in Manchester in late September or early October against either Vivian Harris, the World Boxing Association champion, or the former lightweight world champion Paul Spadafora, a man who is in the news for a vicious altercation with his girlfriend at a petrol station last year.

Harris or Spadafora would be fantastic for Hatton and British boxing but, as Warren knows, having a name, having a verbal commitment and getting a top-ranked American in a British ring is an extremely difficult task.

Saturday's fight was remarkable only for the total lack of enthusiasm from Hatton which was highlighted during the second part of the fight when it was obvious that his heart was not in the simple whitewash. Hatton will be better when he finally gets a challenge in the opposite corner and not a tough professional with an excellent instinct for survival.

There was a further setback for British boxing when it was officially announced that Olympic champion Audley Harrison and the BBC had parted company after four years and 20 fights together. Harrison will defend his World Boxing Federation heavyweight title against Poland's Tomasz Bonin on Saturday live on the BBC but that will end a relationship that started in September 2000. The boxer claimed that the BBC had dropped him because of financial difficulties.

In the wider world of boxing the World Boxing Council's long-serving president Jose Sulaiman has finally admitted that the governing body, which was created 40 years ago, will go into voluntary liquidation because of mounting debts incurred during a court case which they lost in 2002.

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