Power of Hatton proves to be real thing

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The Independent Online

If, in the inevitable fallout from Saturday night's world title fight between Ricky Hatton and American veteran Freddie Pendleton, anybody from the cynical business of boxing condemns this result it will be from spite.

Hatton is just 23 and in the time-honoured tradition of all prospects he has met his fair share of easily beatable opponents but here in his hometown MEN Arena he fulfilled all of his early potential with a stunning second round knockout. Pendleton is 38 and in the 20th year of an extraordinary career but he is still, regardless of what some experts say, still a potentially dangerous opponent. Hatton humbled him thoroughly before dropping him for a full count of ten.

During the last decade British boxing fans have been so horribly spoiled with a succession of superstars like Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Naseem Hamed and Lennox Lewis that , when somebody like Hatton, who enters the ring without a single gimmick, comes along, it takes longer for him to receive recognition.

What Hatton achieved in his 26th fight in front of over 5,000 people, which incidentally is far more than any of the above mentioned boxers were attracting for similar pugilistic ventures, was to firmly and finally announce his arrival. Part of Hatton's problem is that he is a nice guy and in boxing that is often a hindrance.

Now Hatton will swiftly return to action, possibly in London, on 15 December for yet another defence of his World Boxing Union light-welterweight title. His opponent is likely to be Australia's Mike Rowsell.

The plan next year for Hatton is to, somehow, entice one of the other world champions at his weight to travel from the relative security of fight venues in America to meet Hatton in Manchester. There is even a chance that by the end of next summer Hatton will fight at Maine Road, the home of Manchester City, who seriously considered signing the boxer when he was a teenager.

Hatton was merciless in his pursuit of Pendleton and, once the American had been passed fit to leave the ring, there was a look of genuine surprise on his face. He said: "I think that's it for me at this level.'' Hatton, meanwhile, was still in the ring, accepting the applause.