In an upset, the much-fancied Lews Ritson’s (17-1, 11 KOs) ascent up the rankings was jolted by Belgian Francesco Patera (20-3, 7 KOs) on Saturday night as the visitor left Newcastle with a split decision victory.
Ritson was the talk of the domestic scene after impressing on his way to an unbeaten seventeen fight streak but all that came crashing down around him on his big night in his hometown.
Starting in his usual aggressive style, Ritson looked like he was again going to hand out a beatdown as he bloodied the nose of Patera in the second, but Patera would soon find his range from the fourth round, letting his own shots go as he noticeably stunned Ritson in the fifth.
The look of concern was etched on the hometown support, it was for good reason as Patera kept up the attack in the seventh which had Ritson relived at the sound of the bell.
Ritson was thought to be the more hurtful puncher of the two but Patera shots were having the bigger impact, shaking Ritson again in the eighth.
Patera had found a weakness in Ritson, one which he went too often, a body attack that had Ritson hanging on in the tenth looking like a strong gust of wind would put him over.
The British champion did, however, show grit in closing the bout well and on one scorecard he was adjudged to have done enough by a score of 116-112, the only problem was that the other two scored favourably in favour of the new European champion by identical scores of 116-112.