Matthew Hatton successfully made the first defence of his European welterweight title on Friday night at the Bolton arena, but had to climb off the floor in the first round to do so against the battle hardened Ukrainian challenger Yuriy Nuzhnenko.

Speaking to British Boxers in the week, Hatton 29, had said he felt he had become a better fighter after becoming a champion as appose to a challenger and looked focused and determined to hang onto his title he won against Gianluca Branco in March.

Hatton is still the European lightwelterweight champion
That all nearly ended dramatically in the first round when a big left hook from Nuzhnenko dropped Hatton on the seat of his pants, caught cold by the on coming Ukrainian. Hatton visibly shook up got up to take an eight count and kept his composure to get through the round and clear his head, using the jab to good effect.

Bob Shannon Hattons new trainer had said that his new charge had often been stiff in his previous fights and came in straight lines and that was something they had been working on over the last ten weeks, the new relaxed Hatton re-grouped in the second and began to try and take centre ring, although Nuzhnenko is a tricky customer and Hatton was being made to work.
Hatton is made to dig deep – words of advice from trainer Bob Shannon
The fight had started at a blistering pace and both traded big shots, but it was Hatton’s better work rate that started to see him claw back the points and by the midway stage he was showing a good composure and his effective jab and right crosses were beginning to redden the face of Nuzhnenko who was constantly coming forward trying to drag Hatton into the trenches.

Always dangerous Nuzhnenko was still catching Hatton with some good punches, but the Manchester champions red alert concentration and desire to hang onto the title it took him so long to attain had now become an imovable object and it was Hatton’s shots that were slowing down Nuzhnenko, who’s eyes were begining to swell.
Nuzhnenko’s corner work on the swelling and talk tactics
Nuzhnenko, a hard-punching 34-year-old former WBA interim champion, brave to the end was beginning to run out of ideas, and Hattons ability to start and then finish the punch exchanges and keep a good fitness level throughout began to get his second wind, which helped him keep a still dangerous Nuzhnenko at bay.

During the 11th Nuzhnenko was gunning for Hatton’s chin again with hope of landing a punch as sweet as the one in the first round, but Hatton was clever to tie him up inside and smoother the challengers threat.

At the beginning of the last round Hatton’s brother and promoter Ricky left his seat at ringside to shout encouragement to his sibling. Again Hatton was not to be denied and he finished strongly to put no doubt on the decision.

At the final bell Hatton raised his arms in triumph and there were no celebrations from Nuzhnenko’s corner who knew there man had not done enough since the knockdown to take the champions title away with him.

After the fight there were rumours at ringside that Hatton had infact broken his jaw in the first round when Nuzhnenko left hook had caught him on the chin while his mouth was open! If that was the case it makes Hatton’s win all the more rewarding, there is one thing about Hatton he is as brave as they come.

The judges final score totals were 117-110 116-111 116-111 – All in favour of Hatton. The win could possibly now see Hatton move onto a world title opportunity against the WBA welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko, who won the title by outpointing Nuzhnenko himself.

Matthew Hatton vs Yuriy Nuzhnenko Full fight video

If the  Vyacheslav Senchenko fight does come off it will be a fight Hatton would jump at and with another long training camp behind him and more of the positive aspects that Bob Shannon is adding to his repertoire he as a good chance of claiming the coveted WBA welterweight title, once owned by brother Ricky who won it by beating American fighter Luis Collazo in Boston in May 2006.

When asked what was going through his mind when he landed on the canvas.

“I was looking around ringside to see who had chucked that banana skin in to be honest.” he quipped.

“He caught me cold, it can, happen but I’ve got a very good chin. And I recovered instantly. I was shook up, wasn’t hurt, but if you think you can grind me down, think again.” added Hatton.
“He made me work very, very hard there, putting a lot of pressure on me and I find it quite difficult to pick my shots,” Hatton told Sky Sports.

If Hatton does get his shot and wins the title, I’m sure fans would agree that fellow Manchester boxer and former conqueror Craig Watson deserves a chance against Hatton. Watson was in fine form himself tonight on the undercard, stopping Ghana’s Stephen Okine in the fifth round.

Watson looked in fine form and fit having come back down to welterweight for this fight, although he is the current Commonwealth light-middleweight champion.
The undercard 
Martin Murray the new Commonwealth middleweight champion
Martin Murray (20-0, 7 KOs) took a one-sided twelve round unanimous decision over Australian Peter Mitrevski Jr (23-7-1, 11 KOs) to claim the vacant Commonwealth belt. Judges scorecards read 120-109, 120-108, 120-109. fight report to follow.
Martin Murray defeats Peter Mitrevski to claim the Commonwealth middleweight crown
Bury’s Super bantamweight Scott Quigg (20-0, 13 KOs) stopped Gavin Reid (6-7-1, 3 KOs) in his first ten-round fight. fight report to follow.
Scott Quigg impressivley stops Gavin Reid
There were also wins for local favorites Anthony Crolla, Craig Watson, Craig Lyon and Rhys Roberts, also Blackpools Matty Askins and Bradfords Tasif Khan. Fight reports to follow…

Anthony Crolla

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