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11 February 2020 15:12

Miguel Almirón Newcastle United F.C. Atlanta United FC

savannah marshall

LEWIS RITSON will attempt to take another huge step towards a World Super-Lightweight showdown when he headlines an explosive night of boxing at Newcastle's Utilita Arena in early April. Ritson will fight former World Lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez on Saturday, April 4 as part of a bill that will also see Hartlepool's Savannah Marshall challenge for her first professional World title. Newcastle-based Ritson produced a career-best performance as he saw off bitter rival Robbie Davies Jnr in his most recent fight in October, with his display catapulting him up the WBA super-lightweight rankings. A similarly impressive victory over Vazquez would enhance his chances of a World title fight, with his Mexican opponent, who boasts a 42-9 record, having held the IBF World Lightweight belt for four years. Vazquez made six successful defences of his title before losing to Mickey Bey via a controversial split decision in Las Vegas.

Lewis Ritson and Savannah Marshall fighting at Newcastle Arena

"He's obviously been there and done it and got the T-shirt," said Ritson, who has lost just one of his 21 professional fights, 12 of which have seen him triumph via a knock-out. "He is a world-class fighter who has fought at the very top level of the sport and continues to do so. I need to be on my A-game to get the win here. "That's the sort of fights we need now to get the best experience at that level. Get past Vazquez, and I'm knocking on the door. "Vazquez can do a bit of everything. He's awkward, he can fight, he can box, but whatever he brings to the table, we'll have to adapt and work out a way to beat him. "We cannot look past him, there's a lot riding on it, but if we get the win over Vazquez, then it could lead to a World title shot down the line." Nicknamed the 'Sandman', and based in Forest Hall, Ritson is regarded as the most exciting male fighter operating out of the North-East. Fighting as part of Eddie Hearn's Matchroom stable, the 26-year-old is being lined up for a World title shot, but cannot afford a repeat of the only setback in his career so far, when he lost to Francesco Patera in front of a capacity Newcastle Arena crowd in October 2018. Since then, he has seen off German Argentino Benitez, Marek Jedrzejewski and Davies Jnr to get things back on track, and despite his extensive experience, Vazquez is anticipating a tough night on the banks of the Tyne. "I think Ritson is a very strong fighter, and I am expecting a very hard fight," said the Mexican, whose only previous experience of fighting in the UK ended in defeat when he lost to Josh Taylor at Edinburgh's Royal Highland Centre in November 2017. "This fight will be very entertaining, and it is a good fight for both of us. The fans will certainly leave happy. "I think not only in Newcastle, but across the UK, fans will be supporting Lewis because they want another champion in the future, but I also want to be a champion again. So because of this, I feel this is a really intriguing fight. I know that Lewis will be very well-prepared and anything could happen." As well as being a crucial night in Ritson's career, the Utilita Arena show also promises to be a landmark moment for Marshall, who remains unbeaten since turning professional. The former World amateur champion will attempt to win a professional World title in just her ninth paid fight when she takes on New Zealander Geovana Peres, the holder of the WBO Light-Heavyweight World title. Marshall, who has long been touted for a future showdown with Claressa Shields, boasts an 8-0 record, with six of her victories having failed to go the distance. On what promises to a busy night for North-East fighters, Middlesbrough's Simon Vallily will attempt to claim the vacant English Heavyweight title as he takes on Fabio Wardley. Unbeaten super-bantamweight Thomas Patrick Ward will hope to continue his push towards a World title fight, having notched four wins in 2019 to cement his place in the top ten of the WBO and IBF rankings. Spennymoor super-welterweight Chad Ellis, Benwell welterweight Joe Laws, Newcastle super-lightweight Terry Wilkinson, Wallsend welterweight April Hunter and Bedlington super-lightweight Darren Reay will also be in action.