Homecoming king Hatton retains junior welterweight title over Lazcano

Originally Published: May 24, 2008
Associated Press

[+] EnlargeRicky Hatton
AP Photo/Simon DawsonRicky Hatton holds his IBO junior welterweight and 'Ring' belts Saturday after beating Juan Lazcano in Manchester, England.
MANCHESTER, England -- Ricky Hatton prevailed in a lopsided decision over Juan Lazcano on Saturday to retain his junior welterweight title and restart his career before a raucous home crowd.

Hatton won easily on all three judges' scorecards at the Manchester City soccer ground: 120-110, 118-110, 120-108. It was his first fight since he lost a WBC welterweight bid against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in December. That was his first loss in 44 career fights.

"It was a difficult fight," Hatton said. "I've never been more nervous in boxing match in my life, all those demons were in my mind about not coming back so strong."

After the fight it was announced that a deal had been sealed for Hatton to face Paulie Malignaggi, who won Saturday on the undercard, in November, with New York a likely location.

To the roars of the crowd of 55,000, Hatton emerged into the stadium in a fat suit -- complete with "Fatton" adorning his shorts -- as a self-mocking swipe at critics of his fluctuating weight between fights.

For Lazcano, it was the 33-year-old Mexican's first fight since losing a 12-round decision to Vivian Harris in February 2007 in a WBC junior welterweight title elimination bout.

Malignaggi, of New York, narrowly defended his IBF junior welterweight title with a split-decision victory over Lovemore N'Dou but his movement was limited after the sixth round when a knuckle in his right hand was likely broken.

Doogan: Stumble In Triumph?

Ricky Hatton showed glimpses of his championship form early on, but as the fight progressed it became more than apparent that the end is closing in for the Hitman from Manchester. Brian Doogan

"I didn't fight to the best of my ability," he told reporters with his hand wrapped. "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."

The judges scored the 12-round fight, which had no knockdowns, 114-115, 116-112, 116-113.

Mike Tyson's appearance at ringside at the end of the first round prompted a huge cheer inside the City of Manchester Stadium.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press