Lewis Ritson attempts to move towards a world title shot, as he features in a ten rounder at Super Lightweight against former world champion Miguel Vazquez in Peterborough on Saturday.
The carat for Ritson being dangled by his promoter, Eddie Hearn, is a clash down the line with former WBA (Super) champion, Regis Prograis, who last time out lost a thrilling World Boxing Super Series final to Josh Taylor in October 2019.
Ritson (20-1, 12 KOs) burst onto the scene at the back end of 2017, when he knocked down Robbie Barratt four times on the way to a seventh round stoppage win to pick up the British title at Lightweight.
He then went on a knockout spree to secure the Lonsdale Belt outright, stopping Joe Murray, Scott Cardle and Paul Hyland Jr in a combined less than four rounds, and in just under four months.
Naturally, with his alarming rate of progression, Hearn was keep to fast track Ritson to world title level, but the Newcastle man came unstuck in a European title challenge in October 2018.
The ’Sandman’ was a heavy favourite going into the vacant title tilt, but in front of his home crowd, he was humbled by Francesco Patera, who badly hurt Ritson to the body several times during their contest, before taking a split decision win.
A move to Super Lightweight was the answer, and he has won three on the bounce since. His last fight came in October 2019, where he took a thrilling points win against Robbie Davies Jr in Newcastle, in what was a WBA title eliminator.
The 27-year-old will now hope to build on that win, and impress against a man in the twilight of his career, who has only been stopped twice in over 50 fights, and has been the distance with some of the best the sport has to offer.
Miguel Vazquez made his debut in January 2006, against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez no less, losing a four round split decision in Mexico.
He bounced back with 18 straight wins in his homeland, before being soundly outscored by Tim Bradley in a visit to the USA in 2007.
He was beaten for a second time by Alvarez in June 2008 over ten, but again rebuilt, this time with four wins that led to a shot at the vacant IBF Lightweight title in August 2010.
Vazquez (42-9, 16 KOs) widely outscored Ji Hoon Kim, and went on to make six successful defences before losing a split decision to Mickey Bey in September 2014.
The 33-year-old put in a spirited showing against Josh Taylor in Scotland in 2017, before being halted for the first time, with a body shot, in nine rounds.
The Mexican unlucky not to defeat Golden Contract winner Ohara Davies in June last year, with Ian-John Lewis awarding the fight to the Londoner by three rounds at York Hall.
Vazquez was last seen in December 2019, stopping Jesus Velasco in five in his native Mexico.
Prediction: Ritson will be looking to send a warning out to his fellow Super Lightweights, and move closer to a big money match with Regis Prograis, with an impressive win here.
Vazquez is a tough nut to crack though, and will be reliant on his survival skills, mixed with the odd ambitious spell. If Miguel can withstand an early Ritson onslaught, he can make it to the final bell, where Ritson should be declared a winner on the scorecards by pretty wide margins.
The card has been reduced to five fights after the highly-anticipated WBO middleweight world title clash between Savannah Marshall and Hannah Rankin was postponed on Wednesday after Marshall’s trainer Peter Fury tested positive for COVID-19.
The clash will be rescheduled at a later date.
Ellie Scotney makes her long awaited professional debut and the Catford Featherweight is matched against the tough Bec Connolly (3-7,), who has been in with Terri Harper, Natasha Jonas, Rachel Ball and Carly Skelly in a ten fight career.
Durham’s Thomas Patrick Ward owns the longest unbeaten record of any UK fighter, and he aims to push towards world level himself. He takes on the tricky Thomas Essomba at Super Bantamweight over ten.
Ward (29-0, 4 KOs) last fought in November last year, taking a shutout win over eight in Dubai against Martin Casillas, while Essomba (10-6, 4 KOs) last appeared at the end of August, losing on the cards at Super Flyweight against Sunny Edwards. Ward should negotiate the test of the Cameroonian on the cards.
Leeds’ Qais Ashfaq (8-0, 3 KOs) should be tested in a ten round Super Bantamweight match against Salford’s Marc Leach (14-1-1, 3 KOs), whose only loss came on debut in 2014.
‘Benwell Bomber’ Joe Laws (9-0, 5 KOs) will be without his passionate support, but he goes for win number ten against Norwich’s Rylan Charlton (5-0-1, 2 KOs) in a Welterweight six rounder.