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Page last updated at 22:05 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 23:05 UK

Hatton retains title on home turf

By Nabil Hassan

Ricky Hatton
Hatton won by a unanimous points decision

Ricky Hatton bounced back from his defeat by Floyd Mayweather to retain his IBO light-welterweight title with a unanimous points win over Juan Lazcano.

Hatton's willingness to take the fight to the Mexican saw him win 120-110 118-110 120-108 in Manchester.

Spurred on by 55,000 fans, Hatton survived a couple of scares as Lazcano bravely rallied in rounds eight and 10.

The victory sets up a possible showdown with Paulie Malignaggi who stuttered to a points win over Lovemore N'Dou.

Fighting for the first time since being knocked out by Mayweather in December, Hatton looked full of confidence ahead of his self-proclaimed homecoming at Manchester City's Eastlands Stadium.

He entered the stadium to his traditional pre-fight anthem 'Blue Moon' wearing an inflatable "fat" suit, poking fun at those who have criticised his lifestyle.

With Manchester United trio Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown at ringside, Hatton shaded an intriguing first round, landing several trademark body shots, but Lazcano held his ground and found his target on several occasions.

The left hook became a useful weapon for Hatton with his Mexican opponent on the end of some thunderous punches.

Hatton was down in the third but referee Howard Foster ruled the fall as a slip in a largely uneventful round that the Mexican probably just shaded.

Two left hooks stunned Lazcano in the next round as Hatton started to find his rhythm with the Mexican appearing to buckle at one stage.

Lazcano slowed in the fifth as Hatton peppered the body of his opponent who offered very little in return.

A cracking uppercut in the final stages of the sixth stunned Lazcano with Hatton's relentless punching securing that round as well as the seventh.

Hatton went in search of the knockout landing several fierce combinations to the body and the head of the Mexican.

Ricky Hatton and Juan Lazcano
Hatton could now face Paulie Malignaggi who won on Saturday
But Lazcano showed sheer grit and determination and caught Hatton with a body shot that had the Mancunian fighter clinging on.

Hatton recovered and landed two fine right hooks in the ninth that prompted referee Foster to take a close look at the Mexican.

Both boxers landed good punches in the next round and Hatton was on the receiving end of a fine right from the Mexican.

'The Hitman' came out all guns blazing and chased Lazcano around the ring as he went in search of the killer punch.

Lazcano nearly buckled in the last round but Hatton was unable to finish him off with the final bell bringing a standing ovation for both fighters.

"I think it's one of the greatest nights of my boxing life," Hatton told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"People must be sick of interviews that I've done over the years about dreaming of fighting at City.

"I don't make things easy for myself. Maybe I should have eased my way back into action but 55,000 fans doesn't exactly make you do that. It wouldn't be Ricky Hatton. That's the way I like it.

"From the start of my career to my current fight, I've always played to the crowd and it's landed me in trouble, and I'm sure it will land me in trouble again.

"It landed me in trouble against Floyd Mayweather. The fight was slipping away, I got frustrated, and instead of trying to last the distance I went for the knockout.

"But I think that's why people come and follow me like they do."

While Hatton looked impressive on his return to the ring, IBF champ Malignaggi did little to suggest he would be a worthy opponent for the Brit.

Malignaggi looked poor and was caught frequently by N'Dou's biggest shots in the first half of the fight.

But he held on to win by split decision with the judges scoring the fight 116-112 116-113 114-115.

"I didn't fight to the best of my ability," he said. "But I'll be ready to fight Ricky in the fall and we'll both be better than tonight and explosive.

"I don't think Ricky looked at his best either tonight. He was a little bit inconsistent tonight. I've always seen things in Ricky Hatton I can exploit."

see also
Hatton has points to prove
23 May 08 |  Boxing
Hatton criticised for lifestyle
21 May 08 |  Boxing
Hatton wary of 'demons'
15 May 08 |  Boxing
Hatton puts fans before US cash
01 May 08 |  Boxing

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