Lewis Ritson’s World Title hopes were wrecked by a punishing 10th-round stoppage loss to Jeremias Ponce at the Vertu Motors Arena, Newcastle, live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN in the US and more than 200 countries and territories.
Ritson was floored on three occasions by the relentless Argentine, who became the IBF Mandatory Challenger for Scotland’s Undisputed World Super-Lightweight Champion Josh Taylor.
“Thanks very much for wishing me well after my fight,” Ponce told Chris Lloyd. “It was a very tough fight, a lot tougher than I expected it to be. I expected a war with Ritson and he’s a tough fighter – tougher than I expected.
“Yes I did think it was over in the first round – it was a great body shot that I hit him with. Any other boxer would have gone down.I hit him right on the button and it would have hurt him. He showed his toughness that he was able to recover from that.
“It was a bit confusing when we were in the ring because I thought the fight was over as soon as I saw the towel come in. Then I saw the ref throw it out – to be honest it was a bit of a shock. He’s probably hurt in the rib area now and he wouldn’t have been if he stopped the fight when we saw the towel come in.
“It’s one step closer to my dream. It’s the dream that you always have as a fighter. I’m one step away from that now. Thank you very much, I’m sorry it didn’t turn out as your expected, but thank you very much.”
Thomas Patrick Ward picked up the 30th win of his professional career, thanks to a stylish unanimous decision victory over Edy Valencia Mercado
Ward (30-0-1, 4 KOs) came out on top thanks to scorecards of 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93, seeing him get back in the win column following his technical draw with Thomas Essomba last October.
“I hadn’t boxed for nearly a year before Essomba,” Ward told Sky Sports. “It was a bad year, and that wasn’t me on that night. We’re only humans and not machines, but tonight was a better night. It was a great fight for the fans, and I’m so happy to have them back. I really enjoyed it in there.
“At Super-Bantamweight I had a great ranking with the WBO, IBF and WBC. This fight was at 128lbs, but I’ve been chasing Emanuel Navarrete for a while.
“He’s a great fighter, and I got close to fighting him at Super-Bantamweight and thought I would have got my shot. We have both moved up now, and I want to fight him.”
Alen Babic blasted aside Damian Chambers with a huge left hook as the Croatian Heavyweight contender added another knockout to his destructive record.
‘The Savage’ Babic produced a dramatic one-punch knockout of Chambers, sealing his seventh straight stoppage, as he returned to the ring following shoulder surgery.
“The third time I’ve gone into the third round, but it’s good it’s only another half a minute probably,” Babic told Matchroom. “All kudos to Damian Chambers, I love him, he’s a very tough guy. I have the power to knock guys out who are 130 kilos, he was like 89 and took those shots. I thought, ‘what is this guy made of?’. I love Damian Chambers.
“That’s why I didn’t do any trash talk, the guy took a fight on six days’ notice against ‘The Savage’ and he saw my knockouts. I have nothing but respect for the guy, I’ll never disrespect guys like that.
“I saw the whole arena, they’re on my side, my heart is so full, I love Newcastle. I’m going to come back and drink brown ale tonight. I just feel so blessed to be here, I sense the synergy between Newcastle and me since day one. I’m so grateful.
“I want to involve the fans as much as I can in my fights, that’s why I do these kinds of things so they can participate.
“Yesterday I wrote a post on Facebook saying, I’m just waiting for a dream, this is all a big dream, seeing myself on big billboards, trending on Twitter. I can’t believe it, I’m a simple and humble guy so this is all just a pure blessing to me – every day and every minute.
“This fight gets me closer to that, when I get Matchroom in Croatia that is my goal. I’d give all my money from the tickets to the children so they can see the real sportsmanship. I really want that, and this is just one step closer to fulfilling my dream which is to involve people in boxing. I can’t just hold it to myself, that’s selfish.
“We were supposed to announce that fight (Nick Webb) for Fight Camp but of course we won’t do that people he btched out, he’s just a little btch. I have no respect for him no more, he avoided Fabio Wardley for three years, me for two, it’s getting silly – I must move on to bigger and better guys.
“Okolie is a great guy, a great champion, he’s done a lot more than I have. Don’t get me wrong, I’m never going to disrespect guys like that, he is my friend. I want to fight him. Of course, I do, for the title, he’s a f****ng beast. I would fight him and all of the Bridgerweights, Rivas, Hooker.
“I don’t care about belts; I just want a good fight for the fans. I want to bring stadiums to life, I want to bring energy, that’s my goal. Just give me whoever you want, don’t tell me who it is, I don’t care.”
Cyrus Pattinson shined on his highly-anticipated professional debut – stopping Bulgaria’s Yoncho Markov in two rounds.
The former Team GB talent dropped Markov to the canvas twice before referee Victor Loughlin waved off the contest.
“I was really happy with my performance, it was a bit cagey early on, we knew he was eager – he’s been game as a badger all week,” Pattinson told Matchroom. “It was a bit unorthodox, stepping through his shots sometimes, couldn’t judge the distance but after the first round I started settling down. I told Graham in the corner that this was only going to go one way from there.
“I put my shots together well, I know that I dug them in – head and body. I was really happy with where we went in the second round.
“This was better than I ever could have imagined it, the support I got tonight was overwhelming, I didn’t realise it was going to be like that. I’ve always said that the atmosphere in Newcastle is second to none so what a way to start your debut.
“Last year we were lining up for the show and everything happened, so it got put on the back burner. A couple dates come up, they were elsewhere but we couldn’t get the medicals or licences through on time, when everything came together it was Newcastle and spectators were back – it was like someone was looking out for me.
“I want to be tested, I don’t want to be taking any backwards steps, I’m taking each fight as they come. I’m enjoying the ride and soaking it up because it’s soon over and you wish you were back in the moment.
“In the tunnel when everyone was chanting and my ring walk kicked in, I started getting hairs up on the back of my neck. I just remember Graham telling me to be calm, calculated and stay sharp. That got a bit cloudy first round, which it does, but take a bit from it – I’m happy.
“I feel like I’m a lot more suited for the professionals, certain shot selections are hard to get off in the amateurs – a lot of people are flighty and don’t hold their feet as much. I’m definitely more suited for this game.
“I’ve been over the moon for them (Team GB), I’ve been supporting them all last week and this week, I’ve been sharing all their stuff, messaging them, watching them, I’m just really happy – I know how hard they’ve worked. Especially the big man Frazer Clarke, he’s waited a long time, 11 years, I was really happy for him”.
Former Team GB standout Solomon Dacres took Alvaro Terrero out in four rounds to earn his first stoppage win in the pros and progress to 2-0.
‘The Real Deal’ was taken the distance in his pro debut against Mladen Manev at Manchester Arena last month and was keen to earn his first win inside the distance in Newcastle.
“I took my time the first couple of rounds, I got a few clean shots off but when I stepped up in the fourth and the ref jumped in it was fair because I was starting to land clean on him then,” Dacres told Matchroom.
“As a Heavyweight you want to get the knockouts, that’s getting my first one out the way and now hopefully many more to come.
“When you’re starting off in the game you need to keep yourself active and keep your face in the game as well – build your profile and all the other stuff that happens behind the fight.
“It was a mini three-week training camp from the last one but yeah at times I did sit down on a few instead of 4’s and 5’s. I was putting 2’s and 3’s together and trying to put a bit more venom behind them.
“They’ve (GB Boxing) had great success in the qualifiers, 11 boxers through, going to the games they’ve got a great chance of getting a whole heap of medals out there – they’ve got some quality boxers in the squad that I was a part of.
“I’ve got the platform, I’ve got Matchroom behind me and everything that comes with that. I’m putting the extremely hard graft in the gym so hopefully I keep my head down, keep progressing and get to where we want to get to.
“Getting a Heavyweight Champion from Birmingham would be absolutely huge, we’re a huge city and hopefully we can get a huge following behind myself and build my profile. Build myself in Birmingham, get the shows in Brum and get some great nights there.
“I say I’ll fight anybody and they [Solomon’s team] say okay we’ll just take it steady, that’s their job in the management. I’m just going to be there to fight anybody, put the work in and get ready.
“That sort of sparring [Joy Joyce] where the guys I’m sparring are ahead of the level of the competitors in the ring is important to keep improving, otherwise I wouldn’t get a taste of that higher level of boxing – that sparring is crucial.
“We’ll be looking to get a British Title, something along those lines, to kick start things and more to come.”
April Hunter progressed to 4-0 with a comfortable points win over Hungary’s Klaudia Vigh in the first televised fight of the evening.
The 26-year-old from Wallsend was bumped up to the televised segment of the show after Ellie Scotney’s opponent Vanesa Caballero test positive for COVID-19 – resulting in their fight being cancelled.
‘The Hunter’ was fighting in her home city for the second time as a professional following a hard-fought win against Elsa Hemat in Barcelona – and sent her fans home happy with a 40-37 decision.
“I’m leaving feeling happy, the support is amazing,” Hunter told Matchroom. “I’m never going to be too happy; I’ll always be critiquing myself because I’m a baby in the game. 15 fights, that’s my fourth professional fight – I’m just learning the job. I think I dropped the ball a bit in the first round, she came swinging, I was just getting into it in the fourth and I think if I had six rounds, I would have stopped her.
“She [Savannah Marshall] was bang on, she told me she’d come for the first twenty seconds, and she did. 1000 fans, I haven’t boxed in front of fans for ages. My ring walk was electric, and I was all hyped up. My experience and all this stuff comes, staying calm and collected, couldn’t really hear my coaches voice through his mask – it was just one of them.
“Really proud moment for me, I don’t know what come over me, I wasn’t planning on coming out and singing like that, but I just felt it and went with it. None of that was planned.
“I’m sparring Savannah every Wednesday and Thursday, I’m learning every week, she can see the improvements and if she can see them then everybody can. I’m learning on the job, every single time.
“The fight game is all about taking it from the gym and putting it in the ring, it was little things in there tonight that I did wrong, probably lots, but there’s also things that we’ve worked on that I got off. I do believe if I had the six it would be a different story, but you live and you learn.
“Perfect time, women’s boxing is booming. Like you say, Savannah Marshall vs. Clarissa Shields is the biggest fight in women’s boxing if you ask me, after that fight the opportunities are going to be endless.”
‘The Benwell Bomber’ Joe Laws put the disappointment of his first defeat in the pro ranks behind him by widely outpointing Plymouth’s Chris Adaway 60-54 in the opening bout of the night at the Vertu Arena, Newcastle.
Laws was sent crashing to the canvas three times in a third-round knockout loss at the hands of Rylan Charlton last October – but the 26-year-old Geordie favourite was in complete control as he made a winning return in front of his local support – taking every round on the referee’s scorecard.
“I can see he hasn’t been stopped much, he’s tough,” Laws told Matchroom. “I’m glad to be back, knock the ring rust off. At times it felt good, at times it felt bad but I’ve been trying a lot since Christmas.
“I was 26 years of age, 9 fights, 9 wins, 5 knockouts, the best thing that could have happened to me is getting knocked out. I’ve signed with MTK, I’m rebuilding again, I’m starting from fresh. I’m never going to be a world beater, but I’ve got a big set of balls, a good heart, I train hard, and I know there’s good fights out there where I can pack arenas out and win belts.
“It felt great, I was never going to be at my peak, I got too heavy at Christmas but now I can build on this. I’ve signed with MTK and I’m starting afresh again. I’m young enough and I’ve got the best sponsors in the world who are going to support us, I’m not going to start calling out stupid names.
“I’ve got loads to learn, I learnt loads in the ring tonight but I’m willing to put in the hard work in through the years to get to where I want to be.
“Hopefully I can get 2/3 more fights, 2/3 more wins, step up the rounds to 8 and keep learning and improving.”