LEWIS RITSON likes to fight. “It’s one of them where you can let out the inner demon a bit, just get stuck in. I don’t think any fighter truly likes getting hit on the end of their nose but it’s the sort of thing when you’re used to it and you don’t react to it, you enjoy it. It’s a passion. That’s what I’ve got. And a little bit of the warrior comes out in the ring and I enjoy that,” he tells Boxing News.

He expects Argentina’s Jeremias Ponce to give him a real battle on Saturday (June 12) in Newcastle. “I think it’s going to be a hard fight,” he said. “There are going to times when we’re both going to have dig deep on Saturday night and it’s probably going to come down to who wants it more. He’s in the same position as me. He’s possibly one fight away from the big ‘un that every boxer wants when they turn over, to be a world champion. So there’s going to be a lot riding on the line. It’s going to be a rough, tough fight.”

It is a final eliminator for the IBF super-lightweight title, one of the belts currently held by Josh Taylor. “Hopefully, for my sake, he does go up and the belt is vacant because he’s a bit special,” Ritson says with disarming honesty. “He’s done it all now, hasn’t he, at this weight. Nothing left to prove, he’s got the four belts.”

“But who knows? He might want a big fight, get quite a bit of money. I’m not going to say no to it, if it’s there,” he continued. “There’ll be a lot of money involved so who knows? But I think Josh has got Terence Crawford firmly in his sights.

“Hopefully get past Ponce and then fight for a vacant belt and hopefully we can get a defence at St. James’ Park. That’s all anyone asks us.

“Hopefully it comes off.”

Lewis Ritson
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Against Ponce Ritson needs the kind of performance that deserted him in his last fight again Miguel Vazquez behind-closed-doors in Peterborough last year. “We got the plan completely wrong,” Ritson said. “He’s running away, I cannot catch him so should I wait for him, should I not wait for him? Stuck in Catch 22 really, didn’t really know what to do and that just led to me doing nothing really.

“You’re sitting back stage kicking yourself really, thinking should have done this, should have done that, but too late.”

He continued to speak frankly. “You get the decision that really you shouldn’t have got, I got the rub of the green but then everyone knows you shouldn’t really be getting it,” Lewis added. “It’s hard, so I took a bit time off social media. Just took myself away from it, you’ve just got to keep plodding on.

“Looking at it now, I would have preferred the decision just to go to Vazquez. People are still going to call you because it was a terrible performance but then they were calling us for the performance and calling us for the result… It wasn’t my fault. Three of the judges judge the fight. Two of them had us winning.

“You got all these people saying he’s a disgrace for not rematching Vazquez but what promoter would want to put that fight back on? None.”

Ritson has a special connection with his fans. He felt their absence and the silence in the arena keenly last time out. “You could hear like a pindrop really. I didn’t think it was going to affect me until I was actually there,” he said. “It was a terrible night for all the North East fighters, me, Tommy [Ward], Joe [Laws], the Bubble, lockdown, all played it’s part.”

He does feed off the crowd and having 1000 supporters back on Saturday will make a difference, a difference that he could need. “Having a thousand fans back will be great,” Ritson said. “It gives you that little bit extra.

“We’re doing well. 11th fight on Sky for Matchroom. I’ve headlined quite a few now, fifth or sixth where I’ve been headlining. So I’ve not done too bad. Hopefully we just keep pushing on and pushing on.”

He wants to keep progressing and he hopes to do that against Jeremias Ponce. But he also just wants to have a fight.