On Saturday from Newcastle, England, Matchroom Boxing has a pair of good-looking matchups in a doubleheader, featuring Robbie Davies Jr vs Lewis Ritson and Ted Cheeseman vs Scott Fitzgerald.
Our staffers make their picks.
Ted Cheeseman vs Scott Fitzgerald
Cheeseman is officially 0-1-1 in his last two, though the draw definitely should’ve been a win for him, while Fitzgerald is coming in with terrific momentum having beaten rival Anthony Fowler in a bit of an upset in March.
Here’s the thing, though: I think Fowler was always overrated as a prospect, and I wasn’t particularly surprised to see Fitzgerald beat him. So while he does have momentum, I’m not sure it’s the huge momentum some may see it being. I like Cheeseman’s action style, and even when he was sorely outclassed by Sergio Garcia, he never fully gave up on the fight. Garcia might be edge of world class at 154, maybe even a bit more. Fitzgerald isn’t as good as Garcia, or at least I don’t suspect that he is. I get the feeling most will expect Fitzgerald to win this fight, but I’m going with The Big Cheese in a competitive, entertaining bout that comes down to the wire and maybe could go either way. Cheeseman SD-12
So far in his 13 professional fights, Scott Fitzgerald hasn’t really fought anyone worth mentioning. His last fight against Anthony Fowler was his best opponent, and he just barely squeaked out a split decision win on the narrowest of margins. On the other hand Cheeseman might’ve face slightly stiffer competition through his 17 fights, but he did just recently drop a unanimous decision against Sergio Garcia early this year followed by a split draw against Kieron Conway. If nothing else, I think that’s starting to suggest where the ceiling might be for Cheeseman. That means Fitzgerald still has something to prove in that respect — what class of opponent he’ll top out at — but for now I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and says he steps it up in this outing. Fitzgerald MD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
My initial instinct was to pick Cheeseman; Anthony Fowler racked up the early rounds against Fitzgerald through activity, and Cheeseman, who thrives off of relentless punch output, showed in his fight with Conway that he’s got the motor to not slow down until at least the last third of a fight. Then it occurred to me that Cheeseman is a lot less difficult to figure out than Fowler is. He steps in, dips, then throws with clockwork regularity, offering none of the movement or variety Fowler used to good success early on.
Cheeseman could still outwork Fitzgerald, but I don’t see him getting through Fitzgerald’s defense enough to prevent the inevitable momentum shift. While I can see a judge giving Cheeseman the win, Fitzgerald should rack up enough rounds through technical superiority. Fitzgerald SD-12
This fight has got work rate written all over it. If this goes the distance, keep an eye on the combined punches thrown as these domestic rivals scrap for the Lonsdale belt. Cheeseman is being overlooked following his last two outings against Garcia and Conway in which the 24-year-old was exposed for a real lack of defensive nous – whether Fitzgerald has the brain to pick holes in “The Big Cheese” like Sergio Garcia managed is the hinge this fight sits on. If Cheeseman learnt anything from the Garcia loss, it’s time to show it.
Fitzgerald is a busy operator and if his work is clean enough, Cheeseman may be forced into using his face as the first line of defence once again. Keeping the distance should be Fitzgerald’s main tactic, with Cheeseman trying to lure the favourite into the pocket for an early tear up. Ted is too brave for his own good and there is a big chance we see the passing of the British super-welterweight baton on Saturday, with Hearn pumping his future energy into Fitzgerald and his loyal army of vocal Preston followers. I can see Cheeseman being saved for another day late in the fight. Fitzgerald TKO-11
And the staff winner is...
Scott Fitzgerald (3-1)!
Robbie Davies Jr vs Lewis Ritson
I really like this fight, maybe even a bit more than I like Cheeseman-Fitzgerald. Davies is really flying high these days, having won the British, Commonwealth, and European titles at 140, scoring solid wins over Glenn Foot and Joe Hughes, and before that getting even with Michal Syrowatka in a dominant rematch performance. More and more, it seems that Davies’ loss to Syrowatka was a slip up and one that he took as a valuable learning experience.
Ritson got found out a bit at 135 when he fought Francesco Patera for the European title, and hasn’t exactly lit it up in two fights since moving up to 140. Ritson will have home field in Newcastle, and if he fights more like the Ritson of 2017-18, he’s going to be a handful for Davies. I keep weighing whether or not Davies, who wants to fight world class foes, may be getting ahead of himself, might be overlooking Ritson a bit. But I always hate to guess at that, too, because it’s kind of like calling Davies a dummy who isn’t taking this fight seriously, and that’s unfair. Still, it’s in my head. But I’m going to go with Davies on the assumption that this won’t be a factor. If it’s not, I think he’s just a little bit better a fighter. Davies UD-12
Well, if nothing else this at least appears to be another perfectly well-matched fight which is too often a rarity in boxing. Lewis Ritson seems to like to fight in a pressure style behind a high guard and mix it up — which usually makes for TV friendly viewing. And Davies, while maybe not quite as aggressive as Ritson, is also willing and able to trade punches. Both fighters can be hit fairly cleanly at times, so I think we’re going to see a fair bit of back-and-forth action in this outing.
The real question to me is that since they’re both the best fighters either one of them has faced before, who is going to be able to rise to the occasion when the going gets tough. Going off my gut instinct (and the fact I don’t like Davies haircut), I think Ritson’s might be a little better suited in this matchup. Ritson UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
Ritson’s got a thudding jab, a good body assault, and impressive tenacity. I still favor Davies, as between the two, he’s the only one who can move his head and punch at the same time. He also showed that he can deal with pressure against Joe Hughes and generally has a lot more to offer on the offensive side as far as punch and stance variety are concerned.
Though Davies has a stoppage loss on his record, he seems to have fixed the cardio issues that caused it. In a fight that’s sure to feature lots of back-and-forth exchanges, I favor the guy who gets hit less often. Davies’ head movement and greater versatility carry him to a competitive decision. Davies UD-12
There seems to be genuine beef between these two. Sprinkle on the electric atmosphere of a 10,000-deep Geordie crowd with the cherry of a near 50/50 contest and Davies vs Ritson turns into a must-see British grudge match.
After blitzing through the domestic scene at lightweight, big things were expected of “Sandman” Ritson. Patera outclassed him at European level, with questions now arising over his power at the new weight. Davies is a smart boxer who should look to use his skills on the outside to frustrate Ritson who will be riled up in front of his home crowd. Attacks to the body in the first half of the fight may prove to be priceless for Davies down the stretch, as he looks to slow down the thudding attacks of the slight favourite.
If Davies can keep composed and not allow his emotions to drag him into a punch-up, he could sneak a tight win against an opponent that wants it a little bit too much. Davies SD-12