'The Sandman' Lewis Ritson (20-1) defeated Robbie Davies Jr (19-2) by scores of 117-112, 116-112 twice in front of a raucous home crowd at the Newcastle Arena in what was also ordered as an eliminator for the WBA world title.
WBA champion Regis Prograis defends his WBA strap next weekend in London when he takes on IBF champion Josh Taylor in a unification bout to win the World Boxing Super Series.
The Forest Hall fighter won the Lonsdale belt outright at lightweight in quick fashion but was beaten at the arena last year by Francesco Patera when he stepped up for the European title.
BBN were ringside reportng on all the action:
‘There’s only one Lewis Ritson’ the crowd sing.
It’s louder in the arena tonight than it has been for a while at St James’ Park.
The atmosphere is electric and Ritson will want to send the 9,000 people here happy.
That was a fast start with both fighters landing punches.
The crowd briefly thought Ritson was going to get a first round knock out but Davies Jr rallied.
Ritson heads off to his corner smiling and pumping his chest.
What a start!
Another full on, even round which matched the ferocity of the first.
They’re both going for this early, neither interested in working the other out.
If this doesn’t settle down we could see one of these knocked out - you couldn’t call which one at this stage.
Davies Jr will be happier after that round.
Both fighters are landing punches but Ritson hasn’t found his rhythm yet.
Davies Jr is dictating the pace for the most part but Ritson isn’t phased. He needs to settle into this.
More support than expected for the Scouser too - the Preston fans who travelled in number for Fitzgerald have swung behind the North West man it seems.
This has been a punishing first four rounds and Davies Jr is bleeding quite heavily from his eyebrow.
That hasn’t unsettled him though and he’s been impressive again in this round.
Ritson is swinging and some of them are landing but Davies Jr still looks slightly more comfortable.
He needs to find something else here.
Some good stuff from the Sandman there but there wasn’t too much to seperate them after the round.
Fans expecting Ritson to dominate will be nervous but there’s still plenty fight left and he has more to come.
Chants of Toon Toon to fire him up.
Ritson’s left jab was letting him down for most of that round but his best moment came with a great right hook.
He’s winking at his corner after that one and he’ll be happier.
The fight has settled down slightly and he’ll be thinking about imposing himself more now.
All to play for as we head into the second half of the bout.
Ritson isn’t boxing badly but his best moments are coming when he’s responding to Davies Jr, not when he’s setting the pace.
The crowd are trying to keep up the noise and Ritson might need that.
Davies Jr is moving his feet well and both men are offering plenty.
Local loyalties aside, it’s a good fight and could go either way still.
That was a quieter round two thirds of the way through what has been a brutal scrap.
Both men standing off a bit for the first time tonight and the crowd was at risk of going slightly flat for a moment.
There’s some trouble in the crowd not far from ringside after the bell but it’s hard to tell what’s going on from where I’m sitting.
Both men are tiring here at the end of the ninth. The start of this fight was frantic but it has slowed.
No big punches of note from either men, honours even on the scorecards probably.
Ritson needs a big finish here.
Ritson had a couple of good flurries in that round but Davies Jr landed the biggest punch.
Ritson looks happy in his corner and thinks he did enough in that one.
The crowd was back in full voice throughout that last round and Ritson responded.
Ritson landed a big right which had Davies jr shaken for a moment and he followed it up with a volley of punches.
Wild stuff towards the end of the round with both fighters throwing everything they’ve got left into the fight.
Ritson definitely landed more but Davies Jr responded, with Ritson briefly on the ropes.
Both men were close to being knocked out there and practically holding each other up.
That was an absolute slog at the end. Ritson finished the stronger of the two but you couldn’t call it.
What a fight!
On winning the contest, Ritson said: “This is my coming out party. I tried to fight Robbie for six rounds, but I’ve also shown people I can box and have an engine over 12 rounds. It takes two to tango and Robbie did his bit. Now hopefully I can get the winner of Taylor vs. Prograis at St James’ Park.”
The conquered Davies Jr gracefully added: “I’m devastated. I thought in the early rounds I had the game plan to push him back, but he can jab and move and he changed tactics in the middle of the fight. Lewis has won and I hope he goes on and challenges for a world title and I hope he does well.”
Scott Fitzgerald defeated the champion Ted Cheeseman 116-113 twice and 115-113 to win the British super-welterweight title.
There were wins for Savannah Marshall; Martin Bakole Ilunga; Kieron Conway; John Docherty; Joe Laws; Terry Wilkinson; April Hunter; Thomas Whittaker Hart.