By Bradley White @B_White11
‘Bad Blood’ may be the preferred tagline for this weekend’s clash pitting the best of Tyneside and Merseyside against each other but, despite a few heated confrontations in the build up, the intrigue here lies in a well matched contest between two fighters who have undertaken similar journeys to get to this point.
Despite their stylistic differences in the ring, the careers of Lewis ‘the Sandman’ Ritson and Robbie Davies Jr run almost parallel to each other. Regarded as two of the brightest young talents in Britain, both were successfully working their way through the ranks before falling victim to a pair of shock defeats.
Davies Jr began his pro career with much promise but was derailed by a knockout loss to Michal Syrowatka. The shock defeat did not deter Davies who went on to avenge the loss in his next fight by stopping Syrowatka, before picking up the British, Commonwealth and European championships in his next two contests. He most recently stopped Michal Dufek in a routine performance in August and has gone from strength to strength since his first and only loss to date.
Ritson bulldozed his way though the competition en route to picking up the prized Lonsdale belt at lightweight. As British champion his stock continued to rise, as the Newcastle native mowed through a wave of respectable competition, taking just four rounds to dispatch of three challengers.
The next step up, however, proved to be too much to soon as Ritson suffered a (generous) split decision loss in his European title challenge against Francesco Patera, the Belgian clearly being a class above on the night. Ritson rebounded this year with two successive victories at junior-welterweight, not against any serious competition but helping him adjust to the jump in weight.
Both have records of 19-1, with Davies having one more knockout (13) to his name than his opponent (12). Ritson is a composed yet aggressive puncher, equally effective to the head and the body and a vicious finisher. Davies is the more technical boxer, uses range to his advantage and has excellent ring IQ. Ritson is a notoriously fast starter, whilst Davies tends to come on strong in the later rounds. The Sandman will enjoy the home advantage at the Utilita Arena, competing in Newcastle for the first time since his loss to Patera.
There is more than pride on the line here, as whilst obviously a win against a big name British opponent would open doors for either, promoter Eddie Hearn has hinted at a potential world title shot for the victor, potentially against the winner of the World Boxing Super Series final between Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis.
Ritson is still looking to rebound from his first defeat with a big win, he will have had to have taken in the lessons offered from the Patera loss and be careful not to repeat the same mistakes again. Davies, on the other hand, has long put his loss in the rear view and will be looking for a victory to take him on to the world stage, which is the only level remaining to prove himself on.
Saturday night in Newcastle, both men need a victory, both men will expect a victory and that’s what makes this clash so exciting, the ‘grudge’ is just the icing on the cake.
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