Enter the ‘Sandman’
North East’s beloved son, Lewis Ritson faces former world champion Miguel Vazquez at the East of England Arena in Peterborough on October 17, live on Sky Sports.
BBN’s Editor, Tim Rickson, previewed the entire seven-fight card:
Lewis Ritson vs Miguel Vazquez
Lewis Ritson (20-1, 12KOs) returns from an enforced year-long ring absence to face former long-reigning IBF World titlist Miguel Vazquez (42-9, 16KOs) over 12-rounds for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental super-lightweight title.
As a lightweight, Newcastle’s wrecking ball smashed his way through the 135lbs division by blasting away 11 of his 17 opponents until he was stopped in his tracks when he stepped up from British to European level and was beaten convincingly by Belgian Francesco Patera (23-3, 8KOs). The formidable 27-year-old is still the EBU belt holder having defended it successfully three times since to opponents with a combined record of 52-2-1, so there’s no shame in defeat for Ritson.
As a British lightweight champion, he was unstoppable. He won the Lonsdale belt in October 2017, then defended three times by June 2018, with two first-round KOs and one second-round knockout.
He immediately stepped up a division and claimed the vacant WBA Inter-Continental super-lightweight title, which he defended once then relinquished for Josh Taylor victim Ivan Baranchyk (20-2, 13KOs) to contest and claim, and now he aims to regain the same belt against Mexican Vazquez.
Since losing his IBF World lightweight title to Mickey Bey in 2014, which he had held for four years and six successful defences, he has won only eight from his last 13 contests. In the last two years, he has only one three from seven contests, including that debatable defeat to Ohara Davies.
He has quietly assumed the position of gatekeeper for the 140lbs division, so Ritson has a chance to add a well-respected name to his resume on the 290th day of what has been a tumultuous year.
The Mexican ‘Puppet’ is light-footed, awkward, rangy, and experienced. He has been stopped twice in his nine defeats, both times in the ninth round – to Josh Taylor (17-0, 13KOs) in 2017, who is now a unified World lightweight champion, and to IBO World welterweight champion Thulani Mbenge (15-1, 12KOs).
Ritson and Robbie Davies Jr trilled spectators with their back and forth battle in the ‘Sandman’s’ last fight in November 2019.
If the 27-year-old from Forest Hall can set a high pace to wear the visitor down, try to close the gap and limit Vazquez’s movements, then he could also force a stoppage in the later rounds like Taylor and Mbenge, but both of those fighters are heavier handed, so I believe that Ritson will win this contest on points.
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
Savannah Marshall vs Hannah Rankin
The ‘Silent Assassin’ from Hartlepool, Savannah Marshall (8-0, 6KOs), will clash with Glasgow’s Hannah Rankin (9-4, 2KOs) over 10 two-minut rounds for the vacant WBO World Female middleweight title.
Marshall was Britain’s first ever female amateur World Champion, and remains the only boxer to have inflicted a ring defeat on undisputed middleweight world champion Claressa Shields. Marshall outpointed the US golden girl in China on her way to cementing herself as Britain’s first ever female amateur world champion in 2012.
30-year-old Scot Rankin, a former IBO World super-welterweight champion, has also shared the ring with Claressa Shields, but it was as a professional in a WBC, WBA, IBF World Female middleweight title fight in 2018. The Glaswegian went the full distance but was beaten handily 100-90 on all three scorecards.
Rankin has never been stopped but 29-year-old Marshall has six KOs from eight wins. However, Rankin has dismissed her power as being 'up in the air' as she has never fought anyone noteworthy during her three-year pro career. There has been a bit of back and forth between the pair, with Rankin calling Marshall disrespectful, which makes for a very tasty fight on October 17.
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
Also on the card, exciting welterweight prospect Joe Laws (9-0, 5 KOs), 26 from Benwell, takes on another unbeaten prospect in Norwich's Rylan Charlton (5-0-1, 2KOs).
2016 Rio Olympian Qais Ashfaq (8-0, 3 KOs) returns in a super-bantamweight contest with reigning Enlgish bantamweight champion Marc Leach (14-1-1, 3KOs).
Glasgow bantamweight talent Kash Farooq (13-1, 6 KOs) makes his debut as a Matchroom fighter against an opponent yet to be confirmed.
West Rainton’s former British champion Thomas Patrick Ward (29-0, 4 KOs) resumes his world title charge with a 10-round super-bantamweight contest with Mexican champion Jose Martin Estrada Garcia (11-2-1, 5KOs). Ward is currently ranked WBC #14, IBF #7, and WBO #3.