Lewis Ritson took a shocking split decision win over the luckless IBF Lightweight champion, Miguel Vazquez, who did more than enough to have his hand raised at the East of England Arena in Peterborough on Saturday.
The card was a world title fight light, caused by a positive COVID-19 test to Peter Fury, meaning that Savannah Marshall had to self isolate, and withdraw from her vacant WBO Middleweight title tilt against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin.
The bill topper went ahead regardless, and Ritson (21-1, 12 KOs) put together some decent punches is a largely range finding opening round.
The shots landed mainly on the gloves in the second, as Vazquez (42-10, 16 KOs) targeted Ritson’s body.
The Mexican was getting in and out of range, and putting together some point scoring combinations as he made a bright start.
Vazquez was using a variety of angles to offset the Newcastle man, and although Ritson did land a right uppercut in the fourth, he was largely chasing the veteran around the ring.
Ritson was struggling with his opponent’s movement, and going into the second half of the fight, it seemed he was behind on the cards and needed to up the gears.
Vazquez had settled into a rhythm, and with Ritson coming in straight lines, the visitor could easily land and then move out of trouble.
There was still no urgency coming from the corner of Ritson going into the championship rounds, and he simply couldn’t let his hands go sufficiently enough to trouble his foe, who remained fleet of foot.
Vazquez landed a lovely right hand as ‘The Sandman’ was becoming easier to hit than ever before, as he chased late success.
The final round had Ritson surely needing a knockout, and unsurprisingly, it didn’t come, as the pattern of the rounds that had gone before was followed again.
The consensus was that Ritson won only a handful of rounds, but the judges saw things differently.
— ProBoxingFans (@ProBoxingFans) October 17, 2020
Marcus McDonnell scored 116-113 for Vazquez, but was overruled by a stinker of a card by Terry O’Connor, who scored 117-111, and Michael Alexander, who viewed the fight 115-113 to the Forest Hall native, who picked up the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Super Lightweight belt.
Thoughts of a meeting with Regis Prograis were dampened by Ritson post-fight, and understandably so with the level of performance he displayed here.
Thomas Patrick Ward clung onto his unbeaten record, as he sustained a horrific cut, meaning his scheduled ten rounder at Super Bantamweight ended after eight completed rounds, and was ruled a split technical decision draw against Thomas Essomba.
After three technical rounds, Essomba (10-6-1, 4 KOs) landed a flush left hand in the fourth, and had Ward (29-0-1, 4 KOs) troubled, as he pushed for a shock early win.
Ward certainly had his hands full, and was forced to keep the Cameroonian at bay with straight shots, while the Cameroonian would wing in accurate punches.
A horrific cut to Ward’s left eye occurred in the seventh, caused by a clash of heads, with the cut a gaping one, and it was a matter of time before the fight was halted.
Ward was allowed to continue by the doctor at the start of round eight, and Essomba landed a crisp flurry, staying low as Ward struggled to pin his man down during the session.
The fight looked up for grabs going into the final couple of rounds, but it was curtailed before the start of round nine, as the cut worsened, and the ringside doctor rightly called for the fight to go to the scorecards.
Marcus McDonnell tallied 88-85 for Essomba, while Terry O’Connor scored the fight 88-84 for Ward. Crucially, Michael Alexander couldn’t separate the pair at 86-86, as Ward’s record was blemished for the first time in 30 fights.
The British Super Bantamweight title eliminator went the way of Marc Leach, who handed Qais Ashfaq his first professional defeat in an impressive points win.
Leach (15-1-1, 3 KOs) boxed brilliantly in the first half of the fight with excellent head movement, forcing Ashfaq (8-1, 3 KOs) to miss with regularity.
The Salford man dropped his former sparring partner in the fourth, as a short left hand followed by some cuffing follow up punches forced the 27-year-old to the canvas.
Ashfaq was down again at the end of the seventh, as a double left hand again bundled the Leeds man to the floor for a second time.
The knockdowns proved pivotal, as the fight went to the cards.
Bob Williams scored 95-93, Michael Alexander had it 96-93, and Terry O’Connor scored 96-92, all for Leach, who moves closer to a shot at British and Commonwealth champion Brad Foster.
Rylan Charlton caused a minor upset at Super Lightweight, as the Norwich man knocked out previously undefeated Benwell native Joe Laws, in three rounds.
Laws (9-1, 5 KOs) had a nightmare start, as he was hurt by a body shot in the first round, and in the dying embers of the session, Charlton (6-0-1, 3 KOs) nailed Laws with a big left hand that had the Newcastle man reeling to the ropes and then the canvas.
A right hand high on the temple in the third dropped the ‘Benwell Bomber’ for a second time, and he was badly dazed on unsteady legs.
After a short delay for a dropped Laws gum shield, a short right hand on the chin robbed him of his legs once again on the restart, and he was counted out by Marcus McDonnell.
Ellie Scotney made her professional bow in the Super Bantamweight division, and impressed with a 60-53 win on Michael Alexander’s card against the tough Bec Connolly.
Scotney (1-0) scored a knockdown in the third, when a sharp right-left combination forced Connolly (3-8) to take a knee, but she bravely saw out the contest.
In a match hastily arranged during the week, Tony Bellew-managed Meshech Speare (5-1, 3 KOs) lost his unbeaten record in his sixth fight, as Kane Baker (14-7) returned 13 days after a defeat on the cards to Aqib Fiaz, to take a points win, 59-56, for Michael Alexander.
The pair are usually Super Featherweights, but fought at Super Lightweight, at short notice in what was a cracking fight.