SAY what you like about Lewis Ritson, but he never fails to entertain.
The Sandman, here in Peterborough to defend his WBA Inter-continental super-lightweight belt against Miguel Vazquez, rose to prominence with a serious level of violence in three rapid-fire British lightweight title defences. They were quick. They were brutal.
Joe Murray, Paul Hyland Jnr and Scotty Cardle were not quite gone in 60 seconds, but it did not take a great deal longer. Gone in 713 seconds to be exact. Since then, Ritson has lost to Francesco Patera in a challenge for the vacant European title before moving up to 140lbs and moving to Hartlepool to work full-time with coach Neil Fannan.
Twelve months ago this weekend came his stand-out victory, a 12-round rip-roaring fight-of-the-year contender with his dear old chum Robbie Davies Jnr. There was moments of aggression but there was also a fair amount of boxing and movement so has he renounced violence?
“I’ve still got it in me,” laughed Ritson when talking to Boxing News inside the Matchroom Bubble after weighing in nine ounces under the limit. “It’s about bringing it out in the moments we need to use it.
“We don’t need to be going out there from round one to 12 giving it the big ones. I’m not sure what happened in those British title defences. They must have thought I’m easy to hit, I don’t really know, but it never seemed to work for them!
“It might be a case of ‘I’ll take him out before he takes me out’ but I’m expecting Vazquez to be cuter here. While he put it on Ohara Davies a little bit last year, he was still quite cute but he is ‘the Puppet’, you are never sure what he’s going to do.”
For Ritson, victory over the 33-year-old Mexican, a former IBF champion at lightweight who’ll have his missus in the corner at the East of England Arena, will take him that bit closer to a world title challenge.
On the subject of taking steps, 2016 Olympian Qais Ashfaq can do the same at domestic level in the chief support contest on the Matchroom show, should he overcome a man he knows well, Marc Leach.
The pair meet in a British super-bantamweight title eliminator with the unbeaten Leeds boxer aiming to keep up the city’s sporting stock high following Josh Warrington’s glories and United’s breathless approach in the Premier League.
“Marc is someone you can’t underestimate and I won’t, he’s an awkward kid and sharp,” he told BN. “I’m going to give it 110 per cent and get the win in style. It’s going great in Leeds. I’m not the biggest of football fans but my family are and it’s great how well United are playing.
“I want to do what they are doing and what Josh is achieving and God-willing I will.”
Weigh-in day throws up the occasional drama, though not today, no-one lost to the scales.
A sixth bout was added and confirmed, with Tony Bellew’s Meshech Speare taking on Kane Baker over six rounds. Shack was somewhat displeased that his name came second on the billing, arguing Speare should be first because “I am the undefeated fighter.”
It’s hardly a row of Brexit proportions so there’s no real drama to report from inside the sterile zone at the Holiday Inn, where a sense of anticipation is beginning to bubble. No pun intended, of course.
WATCH THE ACTION ON SKY SPORTS TONIGHT (October 17)