Fresh off a career-best victory on points in a fascinating standoff with eternal rival Robbie Davies Jr, Newcastle native Lewis Ritson is looking to scale new heights this October to earn a shot at a world title fight some time in 2021. The man standing in his way is one-time Mexican Miguel Vasquez. Nicknamed El Títere (“The Puppet” in Spanish), Vasquez held the IBF lightweight crown between 2010 and 2014.
Ritson the Overwhelming Favorite
Despite Vásquez’s undoubted pedigree carved from a career at the top of the sport, Ritson goes into this fight as the overwhelming favorite at the bookies.
Part of the reason that Ritson is being backed to come out victorious is his impressive professional record of 20 wins from 21 fights, of which 12 have come via knockout. The sole blemish in the diminutive puncher from Northern England came in a split decision points loss against Belgian Francesco Patera almost two years to the day from next week’s matchup. In the three fights since then, Ritson has recorded convincing wins against Germán Argentina Benítez, Merek Jedrzejewski and the aforementioned Robbie Davies Jr to get his career back on track in resounding fashion.
On the other hand, the career of Guadalajara-born Vásquez is at a make or break stage. At 33 years of age and with four defeats in his last seven fights, the Mexican may be wise to give up his hopes of someday regaining the belt he lost in a lackluster split-decision loss against American veteran Mickey Bey in 2014 if he loses in Newcastle. There was considerable controversy surrounding the judges’ scorecards following the decision, with many at ringside feeling that Vásquez had done enough to win the fight and hold on to the belt.
Vasquez on British Soil Again
Miguel Vásquez is no stranger to fighting on British soil. The well-traveled boxer has fought at venues around the world, and next week’s bout will be his third time competing in Britain in recent years.
The Mexican must be hoping that it will be third-time lucky having lost his previous two bouts. The first loss came in a ninth-round knockout against undefeated Scottish southpaw Josh Taylor in Edinburgh in 2017, while the second came against Londoner Ohara Davies in the capital last year on points.
This third fight had originally been scheduled to go ahead as part of a high-profile Matchroom show on April 4 this year before being postponed for a variety of well-explained reasons. However, it is finally set to go ahead at the third time of asking next week, having been postponed once more in the intervening period due to the health crisis.
Ritson will be disappointed not to have the chance to perform in front of what is always a partisan crowd in his hometown, while Vásquez will undoubtedly be looking to grasp the opportunity presented by a much more sedate atmosphere than normal at the Utilita Arena on Tyneside on the seventeenth.
What Next for Ritson?
While there is a lot of excitement about just how far Ritson can go in the sport, “The Sandman” will first need to follow through on his promise of a knockout win against Vásquez. If this comes to pass, many have tipped the Geordie hero to be awarded a big-money World Title shot. He also stands to face up against the likes of either American puncher Regis Prograis or fellow countryman Josh Taylor in what could both be blockbuster events in the 140lbs division.
In a recent interview with Matchroom Boxing, Ritson stated his aim to use the upcoming event as a springboard toward a World Title fight.
“It’s time to prove that I can go to world level,” Ritson proclaimed recently at his Hartlepool-based training camp as he eyed the kudos that will come his way if he scores a convincing victory over a big name like Vásquez.
Time will tell with regards to just how high Ritson’s ceiling is. However, should he come out on top of a hardened warrior in Vásquez who, despite being now in the twilight of his career, still represents an ego-boosting scalp, people will undoubtedly start talking about him as someone who may well just go on to put a serious claim on the super lightweight division in the coming years.
Finally, a look at the odds. Most online betting sites have Ritson way out in front, with the odds favoring the charismatic Brit, who can be backed at -910. Vasquez, on the other hand, is around +550, with +2200 the draw. But with the match set to take place behind closed doors, we would not be too surprised if Vásquez is able to capitalize on the lack of what was sure to have been a hostile home atmosphere in support of Ritson.