Robbie Davies Jr vs Lewis Ritson is an absolute barnburner, with the Forest Hall warrior outscoring an equally determined Liverpudlian
They called it Bad Blood but it’s eminently debatable just how much animosity there was between Newcastle Arena super-lightweight main eventers Robbie Davies Jr and Lewis Ritson. Both former European champion (vacated) Davies Jr, from Liverpool and ex-British champ down at lightweight, Ritson from nearby Forest Hall, had supreme confidence in their abilities and words had been exchanged in the past and, notably, between their most recent outings. Each boasted a 19-1 record coming in, with Davies Jr recording one additional inside-schedule victory at 13, but his defeat was via stoppage, albeit later avenged, whereas Ritson had gone the full course in his only loss, a vacant European title challenge at 135lbs, to Francesco Patera. It all added up to a 50-50 fight where the winner could look beyond domestic level.
Ritson, backed by noisy support, came storming out in the opener, landing clean left hooks, but Davies Jr beckoned him on and ended the round in the ascendancy. They continued to engage at close quarters in the second, with the bigger Davies Jr pushing Ritson back. It ebbed and flowed, with Ritson enjoying a good third courtesy of short hooks, uppercuts and body shots inside. It were as if they made a silent pact, virtually from the beginning, that they would trade throughout and whoever survived would be a worthy victor; who were we to argue?
Both showed admirable grit and punch resistance as clean shots were in abundance and clinches were rare. Davies Jr, who alternated stances, repeatedly bulled forward with his head down and shoulder extended, but Ritson often found room to work, even when pinned back. After six sessions the scores could have been anything but, for what it’s worth, I had Ritson winning 4-2 in rounds.
Davies Jr was the physically stronger and perennially on the front foot, but the accuracy and timing of Ritson stood out as the battle moved into its second half and the pace inevitably slowed. The action, however, remained gripping. Both were quality amateurs, but this fight always looked as if it would be decided by will as much as skill. Davies Jr stood off a little more and varied his work from the eighth, becoming less predictable as a result. Robbie landed two big right hands as he tried to time the local hero. I had it 5-3 Ritson at the two-thirds stage.
Davies Jr moved and countered from both stances as the ninth began, making use of his longer reach, then bulled forward towards the close of the round. The momentum was with him as they entered the final three rounds. Ritson looked tired and lacking ideas in the 10th, taking a clean left hook before retaliating with a nice combination. I made it dead level with just two sessions remaining.
Both were comparatively and understandably circumspect in round 11, exhausted and seemingly loath to make a crucial error. Ritson overreached on occasion and he was punished for it but probably landed more clean punches overall. With the finishing line finally in sight, they were each willing to empty their tanks and this produced an amazing last round. They took turns unloading on each other in a conclusion that, given everything that had come before, was quite remarkable. I gave Ritson the 12th and with it the fight, 7-5 in rounds or 115-113. The judges had it even wider, making Ritson the victor by tallies of 117-112 and 116-112 (twice).