OHARA DAVIES broke down Lewis Ritson before stopping him with a savage left hook to the body in the ninth round to book a long-awaited world title shot.
Davies had boxed brilliantly across the preceding rounds, landing countless heavy shots to both head and body without ever really sustaining any damage himself.
And with 50 seconds left in the ninth, home favorite Ritson finally succumbed to the pressure, dropping instantly when Davies’ left hand sunk beneath his right elbow. He was unable to beat the count and, in fact, remained on the floor for more than four minutes after the fight had ended.
This was a final eliminator for a shot at WBA super-lightweight champion Alberto Puello, the 21-0 (10) southpaw from the Dominican Republic, so Davies will now get the chance to fight for a world title for the first time after nearly 10 years as a pro.
“When I first got into boxing, becoming world champion was my goal and my dream,” an emotional Davies said. “And as long as I keep my mind in the right place and stay focused I can do it. I’m going to achieve my goal and my dream and become a world champion.”
The first round was even and both men landed with stiff jabs and crosses but, from then on, it looked like there would only be one winner.
Davies was having little trouble landing with his long right hand while he was consistently having success with left hooks that he whipped across Ritson’s belly. In the fourth round, one seemed to really wind the home favourite.
The sixth was a big one for Davies, who was switching his attack from head to body and having success with nearly everything he threw. With very little coming back from Ritson, the Hackney man was allowed to turn the screw.
In truth Ritson did well to make it to the ninth. The Davies corner had been screaming for him to go downstairs and it was their instructions that finally paid off with the body shot finish coming with 50 seconds left on the clock.
Davies said: “Catching him downstairs was a part of the game plan. We realised he was open to the body shots, he’s got a great chin and I went to the head but he didn’t feel it, he didn’t buzz.
“But my corner kept telling me to hit him to the body so I did what they said and it paid off.”
Overall this was a slightly curious promotion, for which a UK television deal was not announced until fight week, when it was confirmed that it would be available as a pay-per-view on Fite TV.
There was a strange atmosphere around the whole event, promoted by Phil Jeffries, with even Ritson talking about the lack of buzz during fight week.
And the two men in the main event were greeted by rows and rows of empty seats inside the Newcastle Arena which cannot have helped Ritson, who used to be followed so vociferously in Newcastle.
But to Davies it mattered little and he can now look forward to his shot at the world championship.
“I’ve been acting for a lot of my boxing career,” he said. “I grew up watching Floyd Mayweather and Muhammad Ali and I ended up imitating them.
“But now I’m all about being me, I don’t care if it sells fights or not. From now on I’m just going to be myself.”
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