Lewis Ritson put the demons of a year ago to bed on Saturday night as he outpointed a brave Robbie Davies Jr in a possible fight of 2019 contender at the Utilta Arena in Newcastle. Walking out to pounding chants of ‘Toon, Toon Black and Army’ in front of his adoring fans, Ritson had plenty to prove after his shock loss to Francesco Patera in the same setting twelve months previous.
Since then though Ritson has moved up to a more comfortable weight of ten stone and showed he could still yet be a real contender in the light welterweight division after a brilliant performance versus an opponent who seemed to have no off switch. In a brutal selection of opening rounds, Davies Jr seemed intent on disallowing Ritson to walk him down, pushing the hometown hero back onto the ropes whenever he could. Endless trades on the inside wowed the crowd as Davies Jr eat left hook after left hook in trying to physically ambush Ritson. Some of the action beggared belief as each man refused to wilt in the face of increasingly high punch output from their opponent.
Every time Ritson would put together a combination, Davies Jr would fire back and it went like that until both fighter clearly felt the pace in the middle rounds. Until an explosive end to proceedings, each man looked to box and Ritson showcased that he could do just that as he moved into the lead on most subjective scorecards. Davies Jr’ corner informed he was a round to two round which perhaps sparked on the best rounds of boxing in recent history, as in the twelfth both fighters went tit for tat and unloaded all they had to the delight of the electric North East crowd. As with most of the fight, Ritson just seemed to land the cleaner and more telling blows, though in truth the ‘Sandman’ took plenty of brutal punishment from the Liverpool based Davies Jr. So much so that halfway through the scorecards being read, Ritson winced and shook his head perhaps still suffering from the pain of his split decision loss in the same arena a year previous. Yet he needn’t had worried as the judges awarded the fight in his favour in unanimous fashion of 117-112, and 116-112 twice.
After beating an opponent such as Davies Jr, Ritson will now look towards to world level in the light welterweight division. He will no doubt have one eye at least on this Saturday’s huge light welterweight unification showdown between Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis at The 02. Ritson’s promoter Eddie Hearn (the five second funny clip guy off Twitter) has already put the feelers out for what would an epic all British showdown between Ritson and Taylor at St James’ Park. Whether that would be too big a jump for Ritson in such short time remains to be seen, yet the thought of such a fight in the North East certainly does make the mouth water. So as ever watch this space for that.
The chief support to the superb main event was the highly anticipated British title fight between Ted Cheeseman and Scott Fitzgerald in the super welterweight division. Defending champ Cheeseman was eager to put a rough 2019 so far behind him by seeing off the ever emerging force that is Fitzgerald. And the South Londoner somewhat bamboozled his Northern opponent by ditching his usual gung ho approach to instead box on the back foot. An approach that was working well until round nine, where Sky Sports pundits in commentary asserted that Cheeseman was three to four rounds ahead on their cards.
However Fitzgerald, trying to build on his brilliant win over Anthony Fowler earlier this year, seemed to sense that he needed to turn up the heat significantly and gradually did so to win the last four rounds, leaving the upcoming scorecards anyone’s guess. Unanimous scores of 116-113 twice and 115-113 seemed too wide either way and Cheeseman reacted in utter digust when it was Fitzgerald’s hand was raised as he became the new holder of the famous Lonsdale belt. A draw would have perhaps been a fair result so Cheeseman was well within his rights to be upset as that’s now two defeats and a draw in his last three, leaving his career somewhat in the balance despite a very good performance for the first eight rounds.
As for Fitzgerald, who once again commented on the fact he was basically just cutting weight in his camp, clearly life choices outside the ring need to be adjusted as if he can keep himself in shape between fights he has enough attributes to progress to at least European level if not further. Anthony Fowler and the fans want a rematch but Fitzgerald should perhaps get some more rounds and disciplined camps under his belt before diving back into lucrative, fan pleasing affairs.
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