Boxing News At Five

Boxing News at Five: Oquendo implores the WBA to do the “right thing” and crown him champion, while Ritson takes aim at Newcastle United

Lewis Ritson fight Joe Murray
Action Images/Lee Smith
Despite being inactive for four years, Fres Oquendo feels he has earned a WBA 'regular' title, and Lewis Ritson isn't very happy with Newcastle United and Mike Ashley

IT could be said Fres Oquendo is playing the long game. It could also be said boxing is the only sport dirty and convoluted enough to reward an inactive fighter, whose last two fights have fallen by the wayside on account of his opponents failing drug tests, with a WBA ‘regular’ world heavyweight title.

Whatever his route to gold, Oquendo, a 45-year-old who hasn’t had a fight since 2014, is adamant that he should be instated as WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight champion following Manuel Charr’s failed performance-enhancing drug test last week. Their fight, set for September 29, was immediately scrapped, and now Oquendo says it would be unfair for the WBA to punish him when he has only ever played by the rules and waited – and waited and waited – for his chance to win their  B-grade belt.

“The WBA should do the right thing and crown me champion. I shouldn’t be punished for something I’m doing right, which is not cheating,” Oquendo said on social media.

Oquendo had previously been booked to fight Shannon Briggs for the WBA title – the belt later won by Charr – but that too went up in smoke when Briggs, the asthmatic former world heavyweight champion, also tested positive for PEDs.

‘Fast Fres’, it would seem, can’t catch a break. Or get a fight. But that’s not to say he deserves to become a champion, nor should anyone receive a title simply because a) they are clean b) they haven’t been caught c) they train for cancelled fights and d) they don’t know when to retire.

shannon briggs

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and hard-hitting British lightweight champion Lewis Ritson claims the football club have contacted his manager to request their logo is removed from his merchandise.

By all accounts, the club are happy for Ritson, one of the most exciting talents in the country, to represent NUFC on fight night, when performing in front of Sky Sports cameras, but are less keen to have him associate himself with them away from the limelight. This decision has led to Ritson, 25, to call for owner Mike Ashley to go.

He wrote on Twitter this morning: “Disappointed in NUFC. Been in touch with my manager telling them I need to take all NUFC logos off merchandise/clothes, but (they’re) happy for me to wear the logo when (I) am live on TV. A team I’ve supported all my life and held a season ticket for 7 years when younger! Mike Ashley Out!”

He continued: “Would just like to add, I make no financial gain or profit from the tops/tracksuits. I put my sponsors on and Newcastle badge on because I love the club not to gain from it.”

At best, you might say it’s short-sighted of Newcastle United to not realise the Ritson potential and understand that there’s every chance he’ll be involved in some very big fights in the next two or three years. At worst, though, it just smacks of control; an attempt to strong-arm a boxer whose intentions are only honest and pure.

Oh well. Whether repping his football team or not, Ritson challenges for the vacant European lightweight title on October 13 against Francesco Patera, and, should he win, there will soon be a whole host of sponsors eager to align themselves with the so-called ‘Geordie Golovkin’.

Lewis Ritson

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