AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Saturday Boxing

Ritson vs Vazquez Preview

It will be a strange for Lewis Ritson when he makes his ring walk this weekend as the Newcastle hero has become used to the raucous and devoted crowd of locals that have supported him in their thousands since he burst onto the scene in 2017. Usually, the Metro Arena in Newcastle is heaving with loyal Ritson fans it would be a daunting occasion for any opponent but this weekend when he faces former world champion, Miguel Vazquez, it will be behind closed doors in an ‘empty’ studio in Peterborough.

It is not to dramatic to say this is perhaps the most pivotal fight in the career of Lewis Ritson. As things stand, he is on the edge of launching an assault on the world scene at 140lbs but a loss here would all but eliminate any opportunity for him to fight for a world title next year. The man looking to destroy all that progress, Miguel Vazquez, is as tough as they come. The Mexican held the IBF World Title in 2010 and although he may never reach them heights again, there is enough evidence to suggest a large chunk of his world class ability remains in-tact.

Predictably, Ritson starts as the home favourite but this fight could be a lot more dangerous than the odds suggest. ‘The Sandman’ has been out of the ring since his war with Liverpool’s Robbie Davies Jr back in October 2019 and it remains to be seen if that fight has taken anything away from him. Ritson is also still settling in to the 140lb division and although he was a destructive puncher at 135lb, he hasn’t shown quite the same levels of power since moving up.

Vazquez arrives in England with nothing to lose. He now has nine defeats on his record but only two have them have come before the final bell, one at the hands of Josh Taylor who managed to stop him in nine rounds back in 2017 and it is fair to say Ritson is some distance from the levels of Josh Taylor, just yet. The former world champion also gave Ohara Davies a tough night at the office last year and a repeat of that sort of performance would make this clash very interesting.

All thing considered, Ritson should come through this one but he will certainly have some questions to answer along the way. He is (5/6) to win this one by decision and that seems the most likely outcome given the fact that Miguel Vazquez is as tough as they come.

The undercard has a couple of other interesting matchups. Thomas Patrick Ward continues his quest towards major honours as he takes on former sparring partner Thomas Essomba over ten rounds at super bantamweight. These fighters know each other well and although there will be bigger nights ahead for Ward, this is an important fight to get some rounds under his belt after eleven months out of the ring.

Undefeated former Team GB member Qais Ashfaq also features against Marc Leach over ten rounds. It is the most competitive fight yet for Ashfaq who is touted to achieve big things and Leach is coming with his own ambitions to claim what would be the best win of his career.

Perhaps the most entertaining fight on the undercard features another local favourite in Joe Laws. Despite his career being in its infancy, ‘The Benwell Bomber’ has built up a reputation both inside and outside the ring. An enigmatic character to say the least, he has endeared himself to fans in the North East and he looks set to have some big nights ahead. He takes on Rylan Charlton who has a winning record himself and it should be an action packed eight rounds.

One fighter to keep a lookout for is Meshech Speare who is 5-0 and makes his first appearance on a televised card. Speare is managed by Tony Bellew and the Liverpudlian has forged a growing reptation for himself on the local circuit. Nicknamed ‘Mr Notorious’ he looks to end proceedings as quickly as possible in his fights and this clash against Kane Baker (who only fought two weeks ago) looks sure to entertain.

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Lomachenko vs Lopez Preview

The fight that boxing fans all over the world have been waiting for is finally here and it is time to find out who is the king of the lightweight division. It is disappointing that a fight of this magnitude will go ahead without thousands of spectators but the fact it is happening, is testament to the ambition of both Vasyl Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez. This is two champions prepared to do battle, without fans, to give us the answer we are all waiting for.

Simply put, this fight is an incredible match up. In Vasyl Lomachenko we have the finest boxer on the planet. The diminutive and unassuming Ukrainian is an absolute master of the sweet science. As an amateur he amassed a record of 396-1, a record that quite frankly, will not be replicated again. As a professional he has enjoyed similar dominance, in fifteen fights he is already a three-weight world champion and regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

Teofimo Lopez is the new kid on the block. He has taken the boxing world by storm over the last eighteen months and to his credit, he has been calling for this fight with Lomachenko at a time when a lot of people are dodging the Ukrainian. Lopez is still just 23 but already holds a version of a world title. He is brash, confident and some may say cocky but more importantly, he delivers in the ring. The undefeated American certainly talks the talk but he also walks the walk.

Just to add to the excitement, this fight has developed bad blood over the course of the build-up. Lopez has been loud and confident throughout the fight week pleasantries and has done his upmost to discredit the achievements of Lomachenko. In a world where every person connected with the sport drools over the achievements of Lomachenko, Lopez has taken the exact opposite approach. Questioning the validity of his opponents’ achievements, he has also made personal slurs and as you would expect, Lomachenko has taken offence.

At the weigh in, things got particularly heated as the Ukrainian champion displayed surprising signs of being riled by Lopez and he breached social distancing protocols to go face-to-face with his young challenger. Some would say this hostility is out of character for Lomachenko and its true, we have never seen him behave in this way before. Whether this is a good or bad thing, remains to be seen.

For the first time in his professional career, there are people actively going against Vasyl Lomachenko. In all of his contests so far, the overwhelming majority have expected him to win and win convincingly. Amazingly, he made four straight opponents refuse to come out of their corner during the fight due to him being so superior.

How he deals with people doubting him for the first time is just one of the fascinating facets of this fight but he looks laser focused and if we were to see a career defining performance here, in the biggest fight of his career, it would be a huge statement.

From a technical standpoint, this is as good as it gets. As you would expect when watching two at athletes at the pinnacle of their sport, there is very few weaknesses in either man. The superior natural skill lies with Lomachenko, it always does, but Lopez has an abundance of natural talent himself. He was also an outstanding amateur and his professional career to this point has seen nothing but progression from fight to fight.

The one area where Lopez has an advantage is power, twelve of his fifteen career wins have come within the distance and his knockout of fellow challenger Richard Commey last year was outstanding. Lopez believes in his power and he will undoubtedly enter the ring believing he can brutally end the reign of Vasyl Lomachenko.

In a fight where the natural skill lies with Lomachenko but the natural size and power lies with Lopez, this fight could be decided by the small details. At this level, it has been proven time and time again that experience counts for so much. Although Lopez won his title in devastating fashion, that was the only fight on his record against genuine world class opposition. He has never faced anyone even close to the level of Lomachenko. On the other hand, Lomachenko has been fighting world class fighters from the start of his career. This is not new territory to him; it is new for Lopez.

At the odds, Lomachenko starts as the (1/4) favourite and he is (5/6) to win by decision. It is easy to understand why the odds for the decision are short, this is two world class operators who are more than capable of doing twelve rounds at elite level but as mentioned earlier, experience counts for so much. The price of (9/4) for Lomachenko to win by KO/TKO could be the way to play this one.

You can expect the fight to be cagey and tense for the first half and Lomachenko may have to come through some sticky moments but as we approach the second half of the fight and the championship rounds, don’t count out Lomachenko closing this one in style, as he has done so many times before.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Lewis Ritson to win on points 1 pt @ 5/6 with starsports.bet
BACK Joe Laws to win by decision 2 pts @ 5/6 with starsports.bet
BACK Lomachenko to win by KO/TKO 1.5pts @ 9/4 with starsports.bet

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