Jeremias Ponce went on the road and delivered an excellent performance as the betting underdog, upsetting home fighter Lewis Ritson in Newcastle via 10th round stoppage.
Ponce (28-0, 18 KO) dropped Ritson (21-2, 12 KO) three times in what wound up being the final round, and Ritson’s father/lead trainer also had thrown the towel after the first knockdown of the frame, which came on a body shot. But referee Steve Gray decided to ignore the towel, leading to Argentina’s Ponce battering the body for two more knockdowns, at which point Gray felt his hand was forced.
It was overall a terrific performance from the 24-year-old Ponce, who was stepping up in competition and passed the test with flying colors. Ritson, 27, was tough as hell and very game, but he was getting out-worked for pretty much the entire fight, and took a bit of a beating even in the first round.
Ritson was just never able to gain any serious momentum in the fight, as everything he did was quickly answered by Ponce, usually with better work. Ponce controlled the tempo and geography of this fight pretty much the entire time. He led 89-82 on our unofficial card
Ponce, 24, is now in position to challenge for the IBF 140 lb title, currently held by undisputed champion Josh Taylor. Most likely, though, Taylor will vacate by the time that fight would be ordered — current plan is for Taylor to fight WBO mandatory challenger Jack Catterall, then move up to welterweight — and we’ll see Ponce fight Subriel Matias, who just beat Batyr Jukembayev in another IBF eliminator. That could be an absolutely cracking fight given what we’ve seen of those two guys, there could be real action in that one.
It’s a terrible setback for the 27-year-old Ritson, obviously, and at this point it’s hard to figure what he really does at 140. He ended his days at 135 getting out-classed by Francesco Patera in 2018, and has struggled at 140 in his last two, getting a gift against Miguel Vazquez and now this one.
It really seems like his upside is probably top domestic guy/back-end fringe world guy, and that’s not meant as a huge insult. He’s a very tough, tremendously likable fighter who gives top effort, but he’s had problems against better opponents repeatedly, and he’s definitely not the destroyer he briefly looked like he was at lightweight.
- Thomas Patrick Ward UD-10 Edy Valencia: A decent fight to watch, maybe a bit more entertaining than you might have expected, at least a bit more than I expected. Ward (30-0-1, 4 KO) was ruled down in the fifth round and took some shots along the way, but did deserve the win here, and got it on scores of 97-93, 98-92, and 98-92. Valencia (17-6-6, 5 KO) came to fight and gave it his best shot, but Ward was just a bit too skilled and composed overall. Ward is staying at 126 (he actually weighed in at 128¾ here) after getting a high WBO ranking at 122, in part he says because he really wants to fight Emanuel Navarrete, who has moved up from 122 to 126 himself and has the WBO belt at that weight now.
- Alen Babic TKO-3 Damian Chambers: Another Babic fight, and, uh, well, it was another Babic fight. I mean that in the best way. Babic goes to 7-0 (7 KO) with a stoppage win over Chambers (11-2, 7 KO). Chamber is really a cruiserweight, but in all sincerity so is Babic, it’s just that even though he’s Croatian, Babic has the very American mindset of having no interest in the cruiserweight division. I don’t think anyone has any delusion about Babic, at least not if they’re sane; he is an extremely fun fighter for a TV card, bold and likable and fights with raw energy all the time. Consensus wisdom is he’ll get found out pretty bad against better opponents than Chambers or Tom Little or Niall Kennedy. On the other hand, though, even if that winds up being true, so what? Everyone isn’t going to be a mega-star champion of the world, there is plenty of room for purely entertaining fighters in boxing. Chambers did land some decent shots here and there, but he couldn’t really dent Babic, and Babic was denting him in return repeatedly. A nasty left hook caught Chambers throwing his own shot, and finished things. Chambers was also down in round one.
- Cyrus Pattinson KO-2 Yoncho Markov: This was a pretty damn fun fight, as 20-year-old Markov (4-3, 2 KO) really came to spoil the pro debut of Pattinson, but got overwhelmed and stopped, dropped twice in the second round. But you can’t ask a lot more of an effort than the Bulgarian gave here in defeat. Pattinson is 27, so a bit old to turn pro at a weight like 154, but has some obvious skills and looks promising as a top domestic fighter at the very least, we’ll learn more as he goes forward. David Diamante announced the win “by countout” instead of “RSC,” though Markov did get up inside the 10 count. Markov also was telling referee Victor Loughlin he was done, to be clear, that’s not controversy, just a little nerdy note.
- Solomon Dacres TKO-4 Alvaro Terrero: Dacres turned pro in May, winning a six-round decision, and gets the stoppage here in his second fight. Terrero (5-12-2, 3 KO) proved a useful opponent, gave Dacres (2-0, 1 KO) some solid rounds before getting stopped. Dacres doesn’t leap off the screen as a blue chip sort of heavyweight prospect, but though he’s 27 and newly pro, he also hasn’t been boxing that long at all, I think he said about four years. 27 would be a bit old for a featherweight or middleweight or whatever turning pro without much amateur background, but 27 is still very young for a heavyweight. If he has the talent to progress and improve and become a contender, plenty of time.
- April Hunter PTS-4 Klaudia Vigh: 26-year-old welterweight Hunter got the clear win here on a referee’s score of 40-37, no controversy about it at all. She was the better fighter, but Vigh (3-28-1, 2 KO) gave it the effort and didn’t fight with any fear. She did feel some shots from Hunter and didn’t want to get into a major firefight, but she was out there fighting, all you can really ask. Hunter (4-0, 0 KO) looks a solid prospect, as she put it she’s still a baby in the game, had just 15 amateur fights and now just four as a pro, but Terri Harper didn’t have much amateur career and she’s done very well. Though welterweight does have good fighters, women’s boxing is still there for the taking for those with the ability, long amateur careers far from necessary.