The second phase of Ricky Hatton's career is now over.
After establishing himself as a fighter to watch in the United Kingdom, and then worldwide, "The Hit Man" now is ready to step into the big leagues against the A-class fighters of the junior welterweight division.
Saturday night's 12-round, near-shutout of Argentina's Carlos Wilfredo Vilches in a bout televised live by MaxBoxing.com from a packed MEN Arena in Manchester, England, showed that it's obvious Hatton has done all he can do against the B-level battlers at 140 pounds.
The unanimous decision for Hatton, who improves to 36-0 with 26 KOs, was a mere formality, reading 120-107 and 119-108 twice. Argentina's Vilches drops to 41-5-2, with 25 KOs and 1 no-contest.
Coming forward in his usual manner from the opening bell, Hatton (who defended his WBU title for the 13th time) imposed his will on the game Argentine and just appeared to be too strong for him. But despite many forecasts of an early defeat, Vilches hung tough, refusing to go down despite getting battered to the body and head throughout the contest.
From an offensive standpoint, Vilches had no answers for Hatton other than a huge number of low blows, some of which were answered by the champion, but all of which were ignored by referee Darryl Ribbink, who gave Vilches warnings but deducted no points.
Not that it mattered, as Hatton easily outworked his foe, and even when he did get tagged by Vilches, the punches did little to deter his progress. It was disappointing though that Hatton didn¹t score the knockout of Vilches, which would have equaled the feat of Sharmba Mitchell, who stopped the rugged Argentine in four rounds in January 2003.
Hatton will now look toward a possible October bout with former lightweight champion Paul Spadafora, undoubtedly Hatton's biggest step up in class thus far, and a good test to see if "The Hitman" can sink or swim among the elite fighters in the world.