Hatton win sets up Castillo super-fight

RICKY HATTON reclaimed his old IBF light-welterweight title and set up a June super-fight back on the Las Vegas Strip after battling past Juan Urango at the Paris Casino.

Hatton was forced to suck up some rib-bending body shots on his way to claiming wide 119-109 verdicts on all three judges’ scorecards, earning him a match against Mexican Jose Luis Castillo.

The dream showdown was almost scuppered before Hatton climbed into the ring, as Castillo looked simply dreadful gaining a split decision win over Hernan Ngoudjo on the undercard.

But their respective victories led Castillo’s promoter Bob Arum to announce a deal has been done for the fight, which will take place back in Las Vegas on a date to be confirmed in June.

Hatton said: “If you want to watch a chess match then De La Hoya versus Mayweather is the one to see. But if you want to see two guys knock the hell out of each other, come and watch us.

“It will be an honour to share the ring with Jose. You only become a great fighter if you share the ring with other great fighters, and that is exactly what Jose is.”

Hatton had found the previously unbeaten Urango a tougher challenge than expected on his big Las Vegas debut, and was troubled by hurtful shots to the body in both the fifth and ninth rounds.

Although his magnificent upper body movement gave him the clear edge throughout, there were also signs of his notorious junk food diet taking its toll on his stamina reserves in the later rounds.

Hatton had started well, immediately settling into a comfortable rhythm and fending off the constantly advancing Colombian with nice left uppercuts and a crunching deep right to the ribs in round three.

But as the rounds wore on Hatton raised fears of a recurrence of a training injury to his right bicep as he used that hand more sparingly the deeper he was drawn into an attritional contest.

Later Hatton shrugged off those concerns, insisting the tactic was simply a method of blocking Urango’s own body shots, one of which clearly caused problems when it found its target in round five.

He said: “Urango is definitely the best body puncher I have ever faced and sometimes the best way to deal with that was to smother him instead of trying to be a hero.

Hatton, who maintained he still had stamina to spare, showed hints of tiredness in the later rounds, particularly in the ninth, when he was caught with another sharp shot to the body.

But he pronounced himself “reasonably happy” with his performance, which may have lacked the sparkle to match this city’s neon towers, but prepared him well for his meeting with Castillo.

Hatton added: “Everybody is always going to judge me against the Kostya Tszyu fight but not all fights can be like that. I would give myself seven out of 10 for that performance.”

Hatton only saw glimpses of Castillo’s desperate struggle to see off Cameroonian Ngoudjo while he was warming up for his main event, but must have relished what he did see.

Castillo looked a shadow of the man who had engaged in two wild brawls with Diego Corrales as his first fight at the 140lb limit almost turned into a disaster. Looking listless throughout, and twice embarrassingly wobbled by seemingly innocuous Ngoudjo jabs, Castillo won 115-113 verdicts on two cards while judge Chuck Giampa scored the same for Ngoudjo.

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