Lewis Ritson has ruled out a future fight with light welterweight rival Josh Taylor as he says the world champion wants to unify the division by beating Jose Ramirez before moving up to welterweight.

WBA and IBF light welterweight champion Taylor looks set to take on WBO and WBC champion Ramirez in early 2021 in a world title unification bout.

Ritson, who faces Miguel Vazquez on Saturday for the WBA intercontinental super-lightweight title, has been linked with an all-British world title fight against Taylor, but the 27-year-old says he can’t see that happening.

“No – I’ve done a bit of sparring with Josh for this fight and he said he wanted to unify and then move up divisions,” Ritson said. “I was putting the feelers out a little bit, saying, ‘what would you do if you won all the titles?’ He said, ‘I’ll move up to 147lb [to welterweight].’

“So if he still has that in mind then the belts will be vacant and we’ll fight for the vacant ones. But who wouldn’t like to fight Josh Taylor? St James’ Park, pay-per-view… It would be a great fight to do, but after the Robbie Davies Jnr fight [last year] there was maybe a little bit of a chance that it could have happened, but I think the ship has sailed now and he’s on his own direction and I’m on mine.”

Ritson added: “Taylor v Ramirez is a mouth-watering fight. I’ve got Josh favourite for it, and I’m hoping that he wins that fight and then moves up to welterweight and vacates his belts so I can fight for them.

“It’s a very good fight – whoever brings their A-game and turns up on the night… I think Josh will win, he’ll have a very hard fight against Ramirez. I think it will be the toughest of his career, but it’s one that he’ll get through and then leave the belts for the rest of us to have a go at.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s fight with Vazquez, Ritson is aware he will be facing a bigger challenge than he has been presented with previously, but the former British champion feels he has the ability to overcome his opponent.

“Miguel Vazquez is the toughest test of my career, 100%,” he said. “He’s been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Even though I’m confident of the win, I think he’s going to show me a few things that will be new to me that I’ve never seen in the boxing ring, so I’ve just got to see what he comes with, adapt and get that win.

“I’ve got to be patient [given his experience]. If I go in there gung-ho like the usual me, stuff won’t go my way. So, I’ve got to be patient, take each round by each round and just wait for my corner to tell me to step it up, and that’s when I will.

“If I have to get the win on points then I will. I’m in a position now where a win over Vazquez gets me some nice, meaty, tasty fights. So, I’ve got to win any way I can and then I’ll get onto those big fights. I need to keep winning, that’s the main thing. I’ve got to beat Vazquez and then I’ll get another big fight after that. I’ve got to keep going up those rankings and keep winning until I get there.”

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