LEEDS, ENGLAND – Boxing can be the most unpredictable sport in the world but, still, there are times when you can close your eyes and picture exactly how the fight will look from the moment it is made.

The welterweight match-up between the slick, skilful Paddy Donovan and the determined Lewis Ritson was one of those fights.

In January Donovan was given a decent workout by Argentina's William Herrera having taken the fight on short notice. The slick 25-year-old southpaw promised a sharper display against the former British lightweight champion, and he largely delivered. Donovan boxed calmly and bided his time before cutting loose and stopping Ritson in the ninth round.

The opening rounds were quiet as both felt their way into the fight. Donovan, 14-0 (11 KOs), moved around the ring and Ritson, 23-4 (13 KOs), pressed patiently forward behind his high-held guard. Aware that Ritson has previously shown a vulnerability to the body, Donovan looked for the left uppercut to the midsection, but Ritson remained calm and organised

Ritson – making just his third appearance in three years and boxing at 147lbs for the first time – tried, patiently, to drag Donovan into a fight. Wary of over committing, he restricted his attacks to single shots, but seemed to visibly gain some confidence by the third round and began to pressure Donovan, who was picking and poking with his jab and left hand but wasn’t punching with enough authority to put any real doubt into Ritson.

It was a strange performance from Donovan, who was presented with an ever-advancing-but-predictable target but fell into a predictable rhythm. He was moving and boxing nicely, but without the flair and spite we have seen in the past.

Towards the end of the seventh round Donovan suddenly began to hold the centre of the ring and to push Ritson back. Whether the change in tactic was a result of Ritson weakening or a pre-fight plan, it reaped instant rewards. Donovan stayed on the front foot in the eighth. He pinned Ritson on the ropes, and the Geordie became a stationary target for Donovan’s accurate, two-handed attack. He survived the round but the assault recommenced as soon as the ninth round started, and the referee, Howard Foster, stepped in to save Ritson after just 32 seconds.