Touted as one of Australia’s best young prospects, Victorian middleweight Dwight ‘The Fighting Cowboy’ Ritchie (14-0) is coming off the biggest victory of his career thus far; securing the OPBF Middleweight Title on the 7th of June against proven Japanese combatant Hikaru Nishida (15-8-1) at the Korakuen Hall, in Tokyo, Japan.
With his victory catapulting him up the ratings, the Shepparton native has sky rocketed to being ranked inside the top 25 middleweights by the WBC, and the 2nd best in Australia, only falling short to proven, tough veteran Sam Soliman (44-13).
With Ritchie now ranked higher than proven contenders on the world stage; such as Gabriel Rosado, Sergio Mora and Curtis Stevens, he is surely looking at the prospect of a big fight on the horizon.
In what was viewed as a ‘shutout performance’ by the experienced, yet young Ritchie, he was able to outbox and outclass his opponent for the 12 scheduled rounds, boxing his way off the jab to earn a unanimous decision victory.
Picking up boxing from an early age, Ritchie trained in his early years with the late great and Australian Trainer of the Century, Keith Ellis Jr, and now trains with Dave Hegarty and Andrew Woodall of Tarneit Boxing Gym.
With 18 fights for 18 victories, it was only discovered some time after his first 4 fights that Ritchie was underage at the time of competing. As a result he had his first 4 professional fight results overturned; with all 4 bouts declared a “N.C” (no contest), and now has an official record of 14-0.
Shortly after touching back home in Melbourne, the new OPBF Middleweight Champion discussed his experience in Japan- how the training camp prepared him for the biggest test to date, and what the new belt signifies:
“Training camp was awesome and injury free- I had some great sparring partners like Jayde Mitchell, Michael Zerafa, Tim Hunt, Michael Herman, Anthony Buttigieg, Parek Wol, Chevy, Chase Haley and Ace Gilbert constantly pushing me and getting me ready. It means a lot for me to win the OPBF title; because not only does it give me a world rating, but it puts me in a great position to try and fulfill my dreams of winning a world title- it’s a great stepping stone in the right direction.”
“I’d like to thank my trainers Andrew Woodall and Dave Hegarty, my manager Mike Altamura, my sponsors Butch from BPC Plumbing, Corey from Platinum Painting, Darcy Boland from Platinum Earth and Civil, all the crew from Tarneit Boxing and everyone who has supported through my career up to this point.”
Manager of Ritchie, Mike Altamura, was able to speak on what he thought of Dwight’s performance and the significance of what he was able to do in Tokyo by securing the OPBF Middleweight Title:
“I’m exceptionally proud of Cowboy. He was fixated on bringing home the OPBF Title from over a year ago, and to see it come to fruition with a total boxing masterclass is very exciting. We’ve already had offers to return to Japan for a defense in July, but at the moment I simply want Dwight to unwind as it was a massive preparation, rest, enjoy some downtime with his family in Shepparton, and then we’ll look to lock in a return a little later in the year. I’m relatively confident that he’ll be making the next defense against a top Japanese contender. He totally won over the crowd.”
“I’d like to extend a big thank you to Frank Hadley and the ANBF for their support in ensuring Dwight secured this opportunity as a mandatory challenger. It gives me faith that the system does indeed work.”
(Images sent in by Tai Tuiniua)
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