Saturday night, inside the Utilita Arena in Newcastle, Matchroom make a long awaited return to UK shores.
Sky Sports televise in the UK, with DAZN the US broadcaster.
The main event is billed as “Bad Blood” as Robbie Davies Junior (19-1, KO13) travels from Liverpool to contest an eliminator for the WBA Super Lightweight Title against hometown hero, Lewis Ritson (19-1, KO12). The two are firmly not on each other’s Christmas card lists, and have clashed previously at shows and weigh ins.
The current WBA “Regular” Champion is the Texan, Mario Barrios, who twice floored and then outscored Batyr Akhmedov in September. “Super” Champion is Regis Prograis, who takes on Scotland’s Josh Taylor in the World Boxing Super Series Final next week in London.
Kirby native Davies was touted as a hot prospect from early on in his career, but his early bright progress was severely checked in a shock twelfth and final round stoppage at the fists of the unheralded Pole, Michal Syrowatka at Wembley Arena in July 2017. Davies did have Syrowatka on the floor in the ninth, but a massive left hook from the visitor forced a unexpected stoppage defeat for Robbie.
To Davies’ credit though, he immediately re-matched Syrowatka in Liverpool eight months later, and exercised the demons, returning the favour with a last round stoppage win of his own, with Syrowatka down three times in total. Since this win, Davies has stock has continued to rise. In October last year, at the same venue he will meet Ritson in, Davies captured the British and Commonwealth Titles in a dominant points win against Glenn Foot. He added the European belt to his collection in March with an entertaining points win against the teak tough Joe Hughes in Liverpool.
In preparation for Ritson, Davies’ last assignment was a third round stoppage of Michael Dufek on a JD NXTGEN show, also in Liverpool, back in August.
Davies will start as warm favourite for his encounter with Ritson, purely because the Forest Hall resident’s reputation has slipped somewhat, after suffering his first career setback in October last year.
After he bulldozed his way to an outright Lonsdale Belt at Lightweight in a combined eleven rounds over four fights. He won the belt in seven against Robbie Barrett in October 2017, and then defended in devastating fashion, with a first round stoppage of Joe Murray, before a second round stoppage of Scotty Cardle, and an opening round demolition of Paul Hyland Junior secured him the prestigious belt for keeps.
Ritson was being talked up for World Title shots, and a shot at the vacant European Title was meant to open up the floodgates to World level. The superb Belgian, Francesco Patera though didn’t read the script in Newcastle, as he dominated Ritson, especially to the body in a split decision win that should have by rights been unanimous.
A move to Super Lightweight was the response, and so far Ritson has had two paid outings at ten stone. He was sluggish in a ten round points win against German Argentino Benitez in March, but then blasted out the over matched Marek Jedrzejewski in three on the same JD NXTGEN bill as Davies in Liverpool, where the two men clashed.
Prediction: I feel that Davies may be too big for Ritson in this one, with the Liverpudlian being a big Super Lightweight, and Ritson only recently moving up. Having said that, Ritson is heavy handed, a pressure fighter, and likes to rise to the occasion. Davies will be wise to invest to the body against “The Sandman” and, after a few rocky moments in the first half of the fight, I expect Davies to take over to clinch a close, but deserved, points win to move a step closer to a World Title shot.
Highlight of a sparse undercard is the clash for the British Super Welterweight Title.
The Champion is Ted Cheeseman (15-1-1, KO9), and “The Big Cheese” will be looking to round off a tough 2019 with a much needed win after two setbacks.
His opponent though, Preston’s Scott Fitzgerald (13-0, KO9), is coming off a stunning victory over his amateur rival, Anthony Fowler, and will be travelling to Newcastle full of confidence. Cheeseman was another man picked for big things, after impressive 2018 wins against Carson Jones and Asinia Byfield, as he became British Champion. The Bermondsey banger then headlined the O2 in London in February, as a European Title shot was the prize against the relatively unknown Spaniard, Sergio Garcia.
Cheeseman was stunned by the visiting Champion, who gave him a torrid night in pounding out a resounding points win, with Ted taking an awful lot of punishment during the contest. The rebuild was four months in coming, and a defence of his British belt against Kieron Conway was deemed a safe comeback at the York Hall. Cheeseman again took a lot of unnecessary shots, and was forced to hold out for a draw in another disappointing performance.
Cheeseman’s recent form will be music to the ears of his opponent Fitzgerald, who’s confidence is at an all-time high following his eye catching win against Fowler back in March. The 27 year old was a firm underdog against Fowler, but a tenth and final round knockdown secured a famous split decision win in what was a high quality showing. Fitzgerald was due to return in August against Brian Rose, but Fowler had to take his place after “Fitzy” withdrew due to injury.
Prediction: Cheeseman has put a lot of miles on his clock in his last few performances, and this will surely be to the advantage of his opponent, who should look to pressurise the Londoner early on. I think this could take fight of the night honours, and my pick is for Fitzgerald to eventually wear Cheeseman down in the later rounds to score a stoppage win.
A ten round British Title eliminator at Light Heavyweight (Go figure after Kody Davies’ win against Zak Chelli earlier this month) sees local lad, Lawrence Osueke (9-0, KO1) meet Walsall’s former Lonsdale Belt challenger, Ricky Summers (16-2, KO5). What is more confusing about Davies’ recent win is that the board have ordered Craig Richards to face Shakan Pitters for the vacant belt after Joshua Buatsi’s vacation.
The pick in the fight this weekend though, is for Osueke to come through on points. Osueke doesn’t have any big names on his record, and hasn’t gone beyond eight yet, but can use his boxing skills to negate the come forward Summers, who has only previously lost to Frank Buglioni and Andre Sterling, both on points.
Other attractions on the bill include ticket seller, Joe Laws (7-0, KO4), Hartlepool’s Savannah Marshall (7-0, KO5) and John Docherty (6-0, KO5).