Lewis Ritson won a hugely debatable split decision against Miguel Vazquez on Saturday in Peterborough.
Newcastle’s Ritson looked in trouble of slipping to defeat through 12 frustrating rounds which he later described as an “eye-opener”.
Ritson got the nod from two out of three judges, even though his promoter Eddie Hearn admitted to thinking Vazquez deserved it.
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It became clear in the early rounds that the visitor was happy to spoil and frustrate. He circled away and avoided an exchange of punches at all times, slowly irritating Ritson but also stockpiling a lead.
Even into the second half of the fight, Vazquez’s pot-shotting was enough to keep Ritson at bay.
The gulf in their experience became evident. Ritson has been a pro for five years but Vazquez has for 14, has fought in four continents in that time, and has boxed Breidis Prescott and Josh Taylor.
Ritson’s gumshield went flying across the ring in the 10th round after a perfectly-timed jab from Vazquez.
Then Vazquez landed a flush right hand, his best punch of the fight, as he turned up the temperature.
However, Ritson and his trainer maintained their confidence after every round that they were doing enough with their forward-pressure.
Even after the final bell, Ritson was assured by his trainer that he had pinched it.
And they were right – the scorecards were 116-113 Vazquez, 117-111 Ritson, 115-113 Ritson.
“I hate Ritson losing,” said Tony Bellew at ringside. “An alarming lack of urgency from his corner was strange.”
Ritson said after: “We got the win but it showed where we are. Call out Regis Prograis? I think we’ve got a little while before we get to them.
“That was an eye-opener.
“We are world fringe level.”
Sky Sports schedule
Usyk vs Chisora – Oct 31, live on Sky Sports Box Office
Oleksandr Usyk vs Derek Chisora
Lee Selby vs George Kambosos Jr
Dave Allen vs Christian Hammer
Tommy McCarthy vs Bilal Laggoune
Amy Timlin vs Carly Skelly
Taylor vs Gutierrez – Nov 14, live on Sky Sports
Katie Taylor vs Miriam Gutierrez
Terri Harper vs Katharina Thanderz
Rachel Ball vs Ebanie Bridges
Jamie Cox vs Jack Cullen
John Docherty vs Jack Arnfield
Povetkin vs Whyte 2 – Nov 21, live on Sky Sports Box Office
Alexander Povetkin vs Dillian Whyte
Conor Benn vs Sebastian Formella
Chris Billam-Smith vs Deion Jumah
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