Matthew Hatton finally got his breakthrough onto a bigger stage, and Anthony Small's big talk wasn't good enough to keep his belts today in Dagenham, making for an eventful Sky Sports Friday Fight Night.
Hatton (39-4-2, 15 KO) won a unanimous decision over aging Italian Gianluca Branco (43-3-1, 22 KO) to win the vacant European welterweight title, winning on scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 117-111. Bad Left Hook scored it 116-112 for Hatton, who took home by far the biggest win of his journeyman career to date. The 28-year-old Mancunian simply had too much in the tank for the 39-year-old Branco, who had flashes where it seemed like he could hurt or trouble Hatton, but couldn't get any sustained offense in his favor.
It was surely the best performance of Hatton's career, but that comes with the asterisk that he still looked anything but world class, and that Branco, in addition to being old, isn't really a welterweight.
Still, Matthew deserves his moment in the sun. If Hatton Promotions are careful, they could ride him out as European titlist for a bit, but it really will require being careful. They could also step him up to a potential shot at the IBF welterweight title, which has been contested by the likes of current titlist Jan Zaveck, Isaac Hlatshwayo, Delvin Rodriguez, etc. I don't think Matthew can beat any of those guys without some good fortune, but it's be a good payday for him, and it's not like he shies away from testing himself. He wants to be a player in the division, and not just Ricky's also-ran brother.
In another joyous moment for UK boxing fans, Anthony Small lost his British and Commonwealth junior middleweight titles to Sam Webb in a pretty substantial upset. Webb, fighting most of the bout with a bad gash on his right eyelid, simply outfought Small.
By the numbers, Small was much busier, but a lot of his punches thrown were those do-nothing, for-show jabs he flicks out there all the time. It started off a pretty standard Small fight, but he started gassing out after cutting too much of a rug, and Webb took full advantage, luring Small into a fight, which is the last thing Small enjoys when he's fighting.
Webb (16-1, 4 KO) won on scores of 117-112, 117-113 and 115-115. Bad Left Hook scored it 115-113 for Webb. Small falls to 23-2 (16 KO).