Eddie Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport: “We’re back in Newcastle and what a place to return with fans. Although we only have 1,000 people in there on Saturday it will feel like the normal eight, nine or ten thousand we have up here. A massive moment in the career of Lewis Ritson against Jeremias Ponce in a Final Eliminator for the IBF Super-Lightweight World Title which will of course lead to a shot at the Undisputed Lightweight World Championship against Josh Taylor. This is a fight to position themselves as Mandatory to that belt. Live on Sky Sports and live on DAZN around the world. It’s a big card in Newcastle.”
Lewis Ritson – Forest Hall, England – 21-1, 12 KOs – fighting Jeremias Ponce in a Final Eliminator for the IBF Super-Lightweight World Title:
“Getting past Ponce is what every kid dreams of, I feel nice and relaxed and I can’t wat for Saturday in front of 1000 fans.
“I think being back with the fans we’ll see the best of Lewis Ritson, it’s the best and most relaxed I’ve felt for a good while. No fans in the bubble is a bit flat, but we’re expecting an explosive performance on Saturday.
“I’ve had about 11/12 fights for Matchroom, I feel like a bit of veteran, I’m already 27, but still young and fresh and not took much punishment. Now the time the apprenticeship is over, we’re ready for the big fights.
“I don’t think we’re going to have go looking for each other, I think it’s going to be a very hard fight – a tough night on Saturday night. But one I think we can get through.
Jeremias Ponce – Buenos Aires, Argentina – 27-0, 17 KOs – fighting Lewis Ritson in a Final Eliminator for the IBF Super-Lightweight World Title:
“Without doubt this is the biggest fight of my life.
“It’s going to be very entertaining fight; I’m going looking for the knockout. If that doesn’t happen so be it, but that’s the aim.
“It’ll be a dream for me personally, in Argentina we don’t have many champions, but it’ll be huge to get a shot at the World Title.”
Thomas Patrick Ward – West Rainton, England – 29-0-1, 4 KOs – fighting Edy Valencia Mecado in a ten round Featherweight clash:
“Last time out wasn’t my best performance but this Saturday night you’re going to see a different Thomas Ward. It was a bad cut, but we got it stitched up, it healed up and we’re ready to go.
“Edy’s a good fighter, the Mexican’s come and give it all they’ve got. I’m definitely looking to put on a good show, a good statement, move forward and smash up some of these World Champions that don’t want to fight.
“I’m not looking past Saturday night; I’ve got a tough opponent in front of me who’s going to be coming and giving it his all. I’ve been rated quite highly for quite some time; I’m pushing on for those World Title fights. I want to fight them; do they want to fight me? Let’s see, let’s get it on.”
Edy Valencia Mecado – Culiacan, Mexico – 17-5-6, 5 KOs – fighting Thomas Patrick Ward in a ten round Featherweight clash:
“It’s a very proud moment for me to be coming here and I really do want to add to that list of Mexican’s that have caused an upset here. It’s a proud moment to be alongside you Eddie and my rival. I think for the fight I have the tools and mentality to be able to make this work, I think the only winner in this fight are the people watching.
“Hopefully, finally everyone can enjoy a good show. Mexican fighters come on the front foot and trade. I’ll wait to see what happens in the fight, I’m able to adapt my style, I have many different styles I can accommodate. Hopefully we can look forward to a great fight on Saturday night.”
Alen Babic – Zagreb, Croatia – 6-0, 6 KOs – fighting Damian Chambers in a six round Heavyweight contest:
“I feel blessed every time I’m here. The surgery was bad, I didn’t want to say it to myself, but I knew it was going to go down because that shoulder had been bad for the whole of the last year. I was talking to my inner self just hold on for a few more fights. I’ve done that now and my hand is feeling stronger than ever, I’m finally 150% back.
“I did some things with the recovery which were different, I’ve been sending savage to my shoulder to recover it. I’ve been doing things differently, they told me I’d be out for ten months, and I was back in two months. I’m so much better than before and I’m going to show it.
“I want to be a fighter in three weights, Cruiserweight, Bridgerweight and Heavyweight. I don’t care about the weight, that doesn’t been I don’t want to fight other weights, it means I don’t care where I’m fighting. My heart will always be in Heavyweight, but I can fight Light-Heavyweight if you make me angry enough. I don’t care about weights; I want to fight.
“They offered me so many tournaments and I said no I don’t want someone who’s going to fall because they know they can’t beat me. This is a guy [Chambers] who has a lot of knockouts, 11-1, he’s a very good guy. It’s going to be tremendous battle and I think it’s going to over inside 1-2. He’s a puncher but not much of a mover, this guy may be faster or stronger, I don’t know but we’re going to find out.”
Damian Chambers – Dukinfield, England – 11-1, 7 KOs – fighting Alen Babic in a six round Heavyweight contest:
“I know it’s going to be a tough night’s work; I’ve watched him before on shows and he is a tough fighter, he comes forward just throwing punches. We got the call on Sunday, by coach said we’ve got a fight do you want to take it it’s against Babic, he’s a tough guy I’ve watched before. He’s a Heavweight and I’m usually at Cruiserweight, he’s got the advantage but straight away I said I think it’s a good opportunity for me to showcase my skills.
“I can’t wait, I’ve been in the gym anyway training, over the last six days I’ve been in the gym training – sparring Monday and Tuesday. I had a tough session yesterday, we had a fight coming up anyway at the end of July, I’ve not fought in 16 months so we might as well take the fight. It’s not an easy fight, he’s a tough man, I’m going to have to be on my A game and make no mistakes.”
Cyrus Pattinson – Alnwick, England – Professional Debut – fighting Yoncho Markov in a six round Super-Welterweight contest:
“It’s an amazing feeling, we’re finally here, we’ve been waiting for a year now with the COVID situation. I was devastated with COVID kicked in because that opportunity to make my debut in Newcastle last time out was taken away. It feels like the stars have aligned and we’re back here in Newcastle and the debut is still on.
“The experience is second to none, all those times turning up to competitions and fighting these world ranked opponents and Olympic medallists. You can’t get that experience elsewhere in the world, obviously the training camps you’ve got to factor in as well. Going to Kazakhstan and sparring six rounds with fresh opponents, it’s matures you as a person and excels you experience as well.
“It’s something that we’ve both discussed before the debut came about, we didn’t really want to take the four round fights which a lot of boxers usually take, usually with an opponent with a losing record. Instead, we wanted someone over six rounds, winning record, who’s going to bring the fight to us – that’s something I’m used to. I think that’s going to show the best out of me. I’m a humble person, I think that people can expect a good night and a good performance.”
Solomon Dacres – Birmingham, England – 1-0 – fighting Alvaro Terrero in a six round Heavyweight contest:
“I hadn’t even got my clothes off from the last one and you [Eddie] were asking me for the next one. I took it, I’m ready and it’s good to get out pretty quickly again.
“That’s what boxing is about, I’m looking to progress to the highest level of the game, so I don’t want any easy touches. I want to be proven and having good fights I can learn from.
“I’ve said in the next twelve to eighteen months I want to be looking at British Title level and then pushing on. It’s a quick projection but I feel like I’m there technically and boxing wise – I just need the experience. All I need to do is get the fights under my belt and I’ll be ready to go at the higher levels. But on Saturday I’ve got to get through Alvaro.”
Alvaro Terrero – Cadiz, Spain – 5-11-2, 3 KOs – fighting Solomon Dacres in a six round Heavyweight contest:
“I’m delighted to be here.”
“Yes, I see him [Solomon] as a great opponent.”
Joe Laws – Benwell, England – 9-1, 5 KOs – fighting Chris Adaway in a six round Welterweight contest:
“I cannot wait. Chris Adaway, I know him personally, I’ve seen fight loads and he’s a game competitor. He’s as game as they come, he never gets soft, he goes in there and gives all his prospects one hell of a go. I’m feeling good myself, I’m back in the best city in the world, I can’t wait to go out there, put a show on and get back to winning ways.
“I’ve learnt not to block shots with my forehead. No, what I’ve learnt is that I do want to box. Last Christmas I asked myself questions of do I want this, but I do. Here I am, come Saturday night I can’t wait to go out there. I might be nervous, but the crowds are back, but that nervous energy is what feeds me.
“I got some stick about losing, but that’s just social media. It was a low point at Christmas but I’m a man, I picked myself up and I’m back. Mentally and physically, I feel great, I’m 26-years-old. I’m a young pup in this sport. The past 18 months have been hard for boxing but come Saturday it’ll be a clip of what’s to come. The show will be electric.”
April Hunter – Wallsend, England – 3-0 – fighting Klaudia Vigh in a four round Welterweight contest:
“I’m thrilled to be back, I’m home with my people, my city. I can’t wait to have a great performance Saturday night.
“Strictly boxing Saturday night, I’m not going to get carried away. I’m going to show my skill, we’ll see Saturday night.
“I think the pool of boxing is going to keep expanded. The next 18 months is pivotal for me, I’ve had Rick Ramos calling fights out that I’m interested in. I’ve got my eye more on Jessica, but if that’s the fight I’ve got to go through to get to her then I’ll be happy to do it.”
Klaudia Vigh – Budapest, Hungary – 32-27-1, 2 KOs – fighting April Hunter in a four round Welterweight contest:
“It’s a big chance and I’m very motivated. I like to box in the UK every time, it’s not my first time here. I’m waiting for Saturday night.”
Photo Courtesy of Mark Robinson