Hatton, who overcame Yuriy Nuzhnenko last time out, dominated Belge
Matthew Hatton defended his European welterweight title for the second time with a third-round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Roberto Belge.
Hatton, the 29-year-old brother of former world champion Ricky, kept his wits about him at Bolton's Reebok Arena amid Belge's speculative early rights.
But Hatton never looked in real danger and ended the contest with a superb left into his Swiss opponent's ribs.
The win could pave the way for Hatton to challenge for a world title.
"It is all about preparation. The preparation was absolutely perfect and when the preparation is right, that is what happens," Hatton told Sky Sports.
"I think over the last few fights I have shown different things. I knew I was league above this fellow. I have gone in tonight and absolutely destroyed him."
Vyacheslav Senchenko's WBA crown had been mentioned as a possible target by Hatton's promoter and brother Ricky in the build-up to the contest.
But, after Belge failed to beat the count, Ricky Hatton admitted that the European Boxing Union may demand another defence before Matthew gets a chance on a bigger stage.
Belge, 31, opened in aggressive style and was briefly thrown off balance midway through the opening round by the momentum of one his own off-target overhand rights.
Only four of his previous 25 wins had come by way of knockout though and he never looked capable of bringing the contest to a sudden end.
By contrast a precise Hatton chose his shots with care and had Belge cornered in the second.
Hatton chose not to press his advantage, allowing his opponent to escape to his stool, but the end was not far off.
Belge folded to the canvas after a crunching body shot found his exposed ribs and was comfortably counted out by the referee.