RICHARDSON HITCHINS is yet to put a foot wrong during his relatively serene ascent towards the upper reaches of the super-lightweight division.

And there are not many expecting that to change on Saturday (April 6) when he headlines a Matchroom USA bill in Las Vegas for the first time, with this clash against the little-known but seemingly dangerous Argentinean Gustavo Daniel Lemos set for the Fountainebleau.

At 26 years old, Hitchins is now 17-0, and, aside from a knockdown at the hands of Tre’Sean Wiggins five years back, has emerged as the sort of fighter who can box his way out of most situations. He has just seven stoppages among those wins, which says much about his style in a division stacked with big punchers.

Lemos appears to be one of them and he arrives at the Fontainebleau in Las Vegas on a 10-fight knockout streak which dates back to 2019. All of them came in his native Argentina and mostly against opposition outside of Hitchins’ class, although he did drop and stop Lee Selby at lightweight in March 2022.

He has had only one fight since then, a first-round knockout of Javier Jose Clavero in December meaning he has boxed for less than three minutes in the past 24 months. In the same time frame, Hitchins – number nine ranked contender at 140lbs – has been involved in 34 rounds of action.

As well as that momentum, the New Yorker is also improving with every fight and has shown against Jose Zepeda and John Bauza in his last two outings that he is well equipped to nullify his opponent regardless of their power. He is seen as one of the leading lights in Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom USA stable and this should be an opportunity to further showcase what he is all about. This one looks like a Hitchins UD waiting to happen.

Beforehand, undefeated super-middleweights Diego Pacheco and Shawn McCalman will clash in a scheduled 12-rounder but it is unlikely to go the distance. McCalman is 15-0 (7) but has never boxed anything above an eight-rounder so this is a noticeable step up against dangerous 23-year-old puncher Pacheco.

The California-born youngster has been tipped as the future of the division following his surge through the early stages of his career. He has not gone the distance for three years and should wrap this one up in the second half of the fight too.

Elsewhere on the card, Birmingham’s Olympic gold medalist Galal Yafai makes his Las Vegas debut in an intriguing 10-round clash with Agustin Mauro Gauto at flyweight. Yafai is 6-0 and is coming off the back of a mature 10-round victory over 22-2 Rocco Santomauro in December.

Argentina’s once-beaten Gauto is another step up for Yafai, who will have to stay switched on early against the 26-year-old puncher. He has the nous to do so and win this one comfortably on the cards.

It is also a huge night for London-based Australian Skye Nicolson, who faces the 14-1 Sarah Mahfoud for the vacant WBC featherweight title. It was a belt which was held by Amanda Serrano until she decided to relinquish it when the WBC refused to sanction 12 three-minute round contests for women. Serrano, a big advocate of that format, has since taken part in an historic 12-threes contest against Danila Ramos in Orlando – without the WBC title on the line.

Meanwhile, Nicolson has been stealthily climbing the WBC rankings and had made no secret of her desire to face featherweight icon Serrano eventually. She won the interim title by beating Sabrina Perez in September last year and will now get the chance to claim the full belt without even having to fight Serrano.

Mahfoud, however, is a former belt-holder at the weight and her only defeat came against Serrano back in 2022. The Faroe Islands-born Dane represents a clear step up for Nicolson but this is a winnable fight for Nicolson, who should use her slick, hands-down style to secure a close points decision and her first world title.

There is also a first fight of the year for rising super-featherweight talent Marc Castro. The 24-year-old managed only two fights in 2022, which moved him to 11-0 with eight quick. Now the man from Fresno will take part in the second 10-rounder of his career when he faces tough Mexican Abraham Montoya.

The 29-year-old from Baja had a miserable run of three straight defeats but rebuilt with back-to-back wins last year in July and then October. His reward for those wins was this crack at Castro and Montoya knows a victory here would provide his decade-long career with a significant shot in the arm.

There are also a couple of six rounders early on in the card, with two youngsters given the opportunity on this latest Matchroom USA card. Notably, the exciting New York puncher Harley Mederos will draw a line under 14 months of inactivity when he takes on Pedro Scharbaai at lightweight. Mederos won 17 national titles and a youth world bronze as an amateur and is currently 5-0 (4) as a professional. There were high hopes for him in the paid ranks and he will bid to get things going again on Saturday night.

Finally, Los Angeles super-flyweight Steven Navarro will kick off his professional career with a six-threes bout against 4-3-2 Mexico-born New Yorker Jose Lopez.

The Verdict – Stacked show, albeit one with some big favourites in  the ‘home’ corner.