Hatton dominates Phillips!

MANCHESTER, England -- WBU light welterweight champion Ricky Hatton (32-0, 24 KOs) put on a show for his countrymen in the MEN Arena Saturday night as he dominated and battered former champion Vince Phillips (44-8, 32 KOs) for 12 rounds in what was supposed to be the biggest test of the young Englishman's career.

Hatton used a vicious body attack to slow down Phillips, consistently beating the 39-year-old to the punch with straight rights and left hooks to both the head and body even after being cut in the opening round over his right eye.

The first two rounds were competitive, with Phillips electing to keep his distance and try to land big right hands while Hatton lunged in with power shots. Hatton dominated the third by pinning Phillips against the ropes and punishing him to the body.

In the fourth however Phillips rocked Hatton with a vicious right uppercut halfway into the round and stunned the Englishman with a combination directly after. Hatton showed some whiskers by withstanding the flurry and finishing the round strongly.

The rest of the fight was all Hatton. The Englishman outworked and outlanded Phillips for the final eight rounds though he was unable to stop the tough challenger. Scores were 120-108, 120-107 and 119-109.

Phillips showed class in defeat reaffirmed his admiration for Hatton after the fight.

"He's definitely a mini-Rocky Marciano," Phillips said. "He fought his heart out and I have to give him that much respect."

With the win, Hatton established himself as a world-class fighter and will likely pursue more fights in the United States in the future to gain an American fanbase.

On the undercard, Junior Witter (26-1-2, 15 KOs) stopped Belgian Jurgen Haeck (15-2, 5 KOs) by fourth-round TKO when Haeck did not answer the bell to open the fifth.

Haeck actually started off quickly, outlanding Witter in the first two rounds and stunning the Englishman with a left hook to the chin with a minute remaining in the second round.

Witter began to impose his will on Haeck in the third, pressing the action more and outlanding Haeck, who slowed down significantly.

Haeck was dropped by a powerful straight left from Witter two minutes into the fourth round. Haeck managed to finish the round but absorbed several power shots from Witter, leaving his left eye badly swollen.

The fight was stopped immediately following the end of the fourth. A fight between the two English rivals Hatton and Witter now seems likely.

Story © Andres Buenaventura 2003. All rights reserved.