Lewis Ritson faces Jeremias Ponce this weekend in Newcastle as the pair prepare to do battle for a shot at the IBF super-lightweight world championship, in a final eliminator bout.

Will home fighter Ritson prove himself ready to take on the elite of the division? We look at his journey and preview the fight to pick out the best odds.

Newcastle’s best hope of a world title

Lewis Ritson was quick to move through the domestic ranks at lightweight, winning a Lonsdale Belt in his first six months as a fighter and making three defences of the belt, all ending via stoppage.

But it all took a turn when the Geordie man stepped up to compete for the European title against Francesco Patera in 2018. Battling through a brutal 12 rounds, Patera’s body work proved too skilful for Ritson to handle, and the decision was made to move up to super-lightweight in a bid to rekindle his career.

After two warm-up wins, Ritson stepped up to fight fellow Tyneside-born fighter Robbie Davies Jr. in an encapsulating bout which went the distance, and one that Ritson won well to help him in moving up the world rankings.

But Ritson’s history as a professional became patchy as he took on Miguel Vazquez in his last bout in Peterborough, only to see a barrage of criticism from pundits and fans alike – all in agreement that Vazquez had been robbed on away soil with Ritson gifted the win by the judges.

Crunch time for Ritson

This weekend we will find out where Ritson ranks in the super-lightweight division, as he takes on the unbeaten Jeremias Ponce, an Argentinian with a 62% knockout rate in the ring.

With Ritson 2/5 to take the win and Ponce 19/10, it’s a pick-em fight in what will most certainly be an entertaining contest, likely to go into the later rounds if not the full 12.

It remains to be seen whether the home fighter has learnt from his last fight against Vazquez, as it will be difficult to see how he can overcome this challenge if he hasn’t improved as a fighter.

Ponce will be game and any fighter who hasn’t yet tasted defeat will be eager to maintain their unbeaten record at all costs.

This is where we see whether Ritson has the capability to learn and adapt, and grow into a world level contender. If he loses on Saturday, and loses without sign of progress, it’s troubling signs this early in his career…

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