Hatton's power takes him to a new world

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The Independent Online

Ricky Hatton easily avoided Freddie Pendleton's first punch in the opening round here last night but the American was not so fortunate in round two when he collapsed for the full count from a left to his ribs.

Hatton extended his unbeaten run to 26 fights and retained his World Boxing Union light-welterweight title but more than both of these things was the simple fact that last night, in front of 5,000 people at the MEN Arena here, Hatton established that he is world class.

Pendleton entered the ring for the 78th fight of his exceptional 20-year career with the knowledge that his selection had caused some concern with Hatton's trainer, Billy Graham, and the young boxer's promoter, Frank Warren. "I had a choice of three opponents and I wanted Pendleton from the start even if some other people were not so keen,'' Hatton said. "I know he is old but the last thing that a fighter loses is his punching power and that made him dangerous at all times.''

However, last night Pendleton was systematically beaten by Hatton, whose fists were able to detect gaps behind the American's elbows and arms. By the end of round one Pendleton's body and head had been hit a dozen times by the type of punches that had left 20 of Hatton's 25 opponents on the floor.

"This proves to me that I can no longer do it at this level,'' Pendleton said. "He could not hurt me to the head but the body shots really hurt, and the pain from the last punch was as great as I have ever felt in my career. There was nothing I could do. I felt like a stuck pig.''

In round two Hatton, whose hands were never far from either side of his chin, carefully moved Pendleton from one side of the ring to the other. There were moments when Hatton looked exceptional, especially when he put together two punches, a short right to the head and a left under the elbow.

A right cross staggered Pendleton and for 20 seconds he looked hurt as he tried to retreat from Hatton's vicious onslaught. The knockout came from the same combination, and the final left hook, which went behind Pendleton's elbow, sent him face down and out for the full count of 10.

Hatton will fight in London on 15 December and then try to persuade Warren to let him continue his career in America. However, chances of a unification fight against the World Boxing Organisation's DeMarcus Corley are unlikely because Corley is signed to Warren's fiercest rival, Don King.

Warren and Hatton know there are a lot of other options and at 23 the fighter has time on his side – something that poor old Pendleton ran out of last night.