The question was barely finished when Lewis Ritson roared his prediction. “Taylor,” he said in answer to who will win the fight between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez for the undisputed world super-lightweight title. Ritson has sparred Taylor twice recently, but he says he did not need that to be convinced the Scot is the best in the division.
Ritson has ambitions to prove he can be the No 1 in the division too. He faces Miguel Vazquez in Peterborough on Saturday night. It was victory over the former IBF lightweight champion three years ago that convinced many that Taylor was on his way to the top and Ritson hopes it will do the same for him too. But in the meantime, he does not see a Taylor-Ramirez fight cramping his own ambitions.
“They need to fight each other, they’ve agreed to fight each other, the winner will get all the belts and then move on, so the belts will be vacant,” Ritson said. “It’s going to be a thrilling fight and it’s going to be one I am going to enjoy watching.
“I’ve sparred [Taylor] twice, only for this camp. But I’ll stick to my prediction, especially after they both fought Postol and he gave Ramirez a harder time than he did Taylor.”
Ritson, 27, and Vazquez, 33, were due to clash six months ago, before the coronavirus pandemic stepped in. It will be Riston’s fourth fight since stepping up to super-lightweight, having recorded a career-best win over Robbie Davies Jr last October.
“Robbie Davies had been European champion but lost it because he didn’t defend it in time, so I feel I should have been European champion,” Ritson said. “The next step after European level is fringe world level and that’s what Vazquez is.
“Vazquez is coming to win, so if I can put on a bit of a performance, make a statement and get that win, it shows people that we are up there and can perform at that level.
“If you watch Vazquez’s last few fights, he has come to bring it, so he has changed his style. I don’t think he can afford to sit back on the backfoot. I think he will bring it and it will be entertaining.”
The fight was only two weeks away when the plug was pulled in March, meaning Ritson had done virtually a full training camp. He says he did not have much of a break from training despite the lockdown.
“Neil Fannan [his trainer] has his gym on his own land, so when others couldn’t go to the gym, we had no excuse,” Ritson said. “If Vazquez has done the same as I have, he has stayed in training the whole time, so he will be fit and sharp and ready to bring it, like we are. If I am on my A Game, I believe I will have enough to beat him.”
There has been talk of a fight with Regis Prograis if Ritson beats Vazquez. If that is the fight Eddie Hearn presents, Ritson says he will go for it.
“If that’s the fight I’m offered that’s the fight I will take,” he said. “If that’s the name we are given we will say yes.”
First there is Vazquez, even if Ritson believes he might not get the credit he will deserve if he wins.
“It’s a bit of a lose-lose fight for me,” he said. “If I look good they will say he is on the slide and if Vazquez pulls off the upset, it will be Lewis was never any good anyway.
“It’s a fight I think I need at this point of my career, and a win will move me up the ladder to where I want to be. It will be a lot more polished Lewis Ritson. I’m going to be much more patient, I am not just going to run in looking for a knockout. I’m going to let my boxing do the talking.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.