Lewis Ritson and Josh Kelly have had a substantial influence on the recent boxing boom in the North East. The Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle will be buzzing with anticipation to see the local duo in respective bouts as they share headline billing of this Matchroom card.
Ritson’s British title clash with unbeaten Paul Hyland Jr is the more notable of the two fights, as Ritson looks to win the Lord Lonsdale belt outright, and he will hope to do so while maintaining his recent knockout run – stoppage victories in each of his last 6 bouts.
But Northern Ireland’s visitor will not be going down lightly, having gained experience from wins over Adam Dingsdale (KO 1) and Stephen Ormond (SD 12).
One could argue that neither Scott Cardle (TKO 2) nor Joe Murray (TKO 1) were fully fledged Lightweights, and in spite of an impressive winning run, Robbie Barrett (TKO 7) may have found his level that night. Hyland on the other hand is a good-sized 135lb fighter and comes with hopes of progressing beyond domestic level himself.
Ritson 15-0(9KO’s) can be found wide open at times – as Cardle found out when he went hell for leather in round one, only to no avail – and while not the biggest hitter, Hyland 18-0(7KO’s) will fancy himself to do some damage if he is afforded similar openings.
In a fan friendly bout, the pick is for Ritson to dig deep in the middle rounds before the pace eases towards the finish. Hyland has enough skill to see out this one, but spending much of the time on the back foot, he will be handily out pointed on the scorecards.
Kelly 6-0(4KO’s) was unable to find the statement of a stoppage win over the heavily experienced former world champion Carlos Molina (UD 10), but he did score a dominant victory nonetheless.
Now he looks to rekindle one of those fan friendly performances against more international opposition as he faces lively Commonwealth Welterweight champion Kris George.
George 14-1(8KO’s) has never been stopped, but did lose to the improving Can Xu on a narrow points decision. He has gone on to rack up a couple of notable Commonwealth title wins, but all at home in Australia.
The blistering hand speed and taunting swagger of Kelly should help keep the fans entertained as the hefty favourite dominates from start to finish. That finish can come early, with George outclassed and pulled out after 8 rounds.
In the best fight of the night, Gavin McDonnell looks to back up his dominant win over hot prospect Gamal Yafai when he faces veteran former world champion Stuey Hall 21-6-2(7KO’s).
McDonnell 19-1-2(5KO’s) was outclassed by Rey Vargas in his only world title shot to date, but hopes a win over Hall will put the Super Bantamweight from Doncaster right back in the mix.
The former IBF champ has enjoyed a fine career, and the Darlington man would love to find another throwback performance at the age of 38. But his best days were at Bantamweight, and the size advantage for McDonnell should be a telling factor.
Hall’s guile and will makes this a belter, but McDonnell follows twin brother Jamie in beating Hall on points.
The lighter weights never fail to deliver for excitement at both world and domestic level, and Charlie Edwards’ clash with Anthony Nelson will be no different.
They have near identical records, but Edwards has gone along a very different path, meeting hard-hitting former IBF Flyweight champion John Riel Casimero early on, only to lose in 10 punishing rounds.
Meanwhile Nelson 12-1(2KO’s) served his own stiff lesson against Jamie Conlan two years ago, losing in 8.
But while Edwards rebounded quickly, Nelson was out of the ring for 2 years, returning with a points win over journeyman Simas Volosinas.
Edwards 12-1(5KO’s) dominated Iain Butcher over 12 rounds for the British Super Flyweight title, and he can repeat that with a one-sided win on Saturday too.
Hard hitting Arfan Iqbal made some noise on the domestic Cruiserweight scene when he toppled Wadi Camacho in round 4, but he will be in for a tough night with Middlesbrough’s Simon Vallily, defending the English crown he gained last July.
Vallily’s only defeat came against the world-class Mairis Briedis (L TKO 3), and he will be confident that lesson will have taught him enough to cope with a less experienced fighter like Iqbal 12-0(5KO’s).
But Camacho would have thought the same thing, and this one will end in similar fashion as Vallily 13-1(4KO’s) is decked in round 6.