Lewis Ritson’s thrilling victory over Robbie Davies Jr proved far more significant than just the settling of a grudge. The bill which was entitled ‘Bad Blood’ following an altercation between the pair in Liverpool in August, in fact remained fairly civil throughout fight week, with both men focused intently on securing the win amid the lures of an even bigger pay day to follow.
It was the man from Forest Hall who prevailed on a unanimous decision with scores of 116-112 (twice) and 117-111 and for Ritson it was a hugely welcome victory, as a world title shot beckons.
2019 has represented somewhat of a resurgence for Newcastle’s Ritson after an indifferent 2018. It all begun so promising after ripping away the British title down at lightweight from Scott Cardle, followed up with a defence over Paul Hyland Jr.
Sprits were high and with a huge fanbase building, talk of a potential bout at St James Park had suddenly become a real possibility for the massive Newcastle United fan.
Ritson appeared unstoppable so much so that when the opportunity arose to contest the vacant European lightweight title against Francesco Patera, ‘The Sandman’ understandably jumped at the chance.
The Belgian challenger quietly went about his business as Ritson received the bulk of the attention. However, Patera who was an unknown quantity prior to the bout well and truly left his mark on Tyneside inflicting a shock defeat on the home favourite. Whether he was underestimated or if he was just a step up above Ritson, Patera prevailed on what was a devastating reality check for Ritson. The dream of a bout at St James’ Park appeared to have faded, in the intermediary.
Ritson regrouped however, after the devastating loss moving up in weight class to super lightweight, where he has since reignited his career with two prior wins to Saturday’s victory.
Now the questions turn to what’s next for the 26-year-old and talk remains rife of a bout at St James’ Park again.
Josh Taylor (15-0) – Regis Prograis (24-0) winner
The success over the highly rated Robbie Davies Jr has placed Ritson firmly in line for the winner of Saturday night’s world unification battle between WBA champion Regis Prograis and IBF holder Josh Taylor.
Ritson wasted no time in calling out the unbeaten pair in his post-fight interview in the ring and would preferably like the winner at St James’ Park in front of over 50,000 fans. If Scotland’s Taylor was to come through successfully then you would assume a domestic world title defence against Ritson would be inevitable. Both men have huge fanbases and would take armies of supporters to Newcastle United’s home ground for what would be a mouth-watering prospect.
However, a bout with Prograis, although likely to produce another capacity crowd would naturally not be held in the same aura as compared to a bout with Taylor. That said, a win for the Louisiana native in impressive style at the O2 Arena would certainly increase his stock and popularity to the UK audience. Although Prograis revealed exclusively to Pro Boxing Fans that he was unaware of who Ritson even was.
Maurice Hooker (26-1-3)
If Ritson is unable to secure the bout with Taylor he so desires then a fight with former world champion Maurice Hooker could be another option.
The 30-year-old held the WBO world title beating Terry Flanagan on a split decision, before losing it by stoppage in a world title unification with WBC titlist Jose Carlos Ramirez in his last bout.
A fight with ‘Mighty Mo’ would be fairly simple to make with both men campaigning under the Matchroom banner and whilst it may be a big step up, it would provide Ritson with an inkling of how far he’s really progressed in this division. Boxing is all about timing and with Hooker coming off a knockout defeat, there may not be a better time to face him.
Jack Catterall (24-0)
Another tough operator but perhaps a more sensible option than the previous two mentioned. The former British champion has dealt with other domestic opposition including Ohara Davies and Tyrone McKenna, who will both compete in next month’s MTK Golden Contract tournament at York Hall and appears on the verge of a world title shot himself having defended his WBO inter-continental title in his last three bouts.
Whilst he doesn’t have the world level experience of Hooker, Taylor or Prograis he is certainly a well-established fighter and remains unbeaten after 24 fights.
The 26-year-old has amassed a respectable 13 KOs and whilst a bout with ‘El Gato’ is unlikely to provide Ritson with the lucrative stadium match-up he craves, the experience of beating a solid domestic competitor would stand him in arguably better stead to take on one of the world champions. Although with this one like many other, politics could take precedence with Catterall under Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions and Ritson with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom. Although, the pair did come to an agreement for Matchroom’s Kid Galahad to face Queensbury’s IBF Featherweight world champion Josh Warrington. So surely this would also be possible.