Lewis Ritson v Francesco Patera Saturday, 22:00 Live on Sky Sports
Step up in class
Avid followers of the British boxing scene will be excited to see rising star Lewis Ritson step up in class this weekend. The hard-hitting prospect faces well-schooled Belgian Francesco Patera for the European lightweight title and the Englishman will carry the support of a sell-out Metro Arena in his hometown of Newcastle.
There's a real buzz amongst domestic fans with Ritson and traders aren't in any mood to oppose the rising star, pricing a home win like losing isn't an option. They won't be far off the mark, big things await Ritson but we have seen many times before if a fighter gets caught up in his own hype and looks beyond an opponent there's a heavy price to pay. Could Patera hush the noisy North East crowd?
Ritson isn't hanging about
25-year-old Lewis Ritson embarks on what will be his 18th professional outing, the Tyne and Weir scrapper making a winning debut back in April 2015 when outpointing useful journeyman Kristian Laight. Those in attendance at the Metro Arena knew the victor was destined for bigger things and they didn't have to wait around to see their prediction proven correct.
The fighter dubbed Sandman - 17 wins, 11 Kos - captured the WBC Youth title in only his ninth fight and has gone on to add the Northern Area and British straps.
Since winning the Lonsdale strap with a highly impressive seventh round stoppage win over Robbie Barrett, he went on to make successful defences against Joe Murray, Scott Cardleand Paul Hyland Jnr, getting rid of each opponent inside two rounds. Nicaraguan Oscar Amador didn't last much longer, downed in three at the Arena Birmingham only last month. Ritson is desperate to reach the top of the division and isn't in the mood to hang about.
With that form it's little surprise to see punters clambering to support Ritson and traders determined to keep on the right side of him. There's currently no more than 1.04 available on the Betfair Exchange, meaning he's about as close to a sure thing as you're likely to see in the ring this year.
Backers can't get involved at that price but thankfully there's a number of ways to support the Newcastle United fan at Betfair. 1.30 says he'll win inside the distance again, 2/1 (Sportsbook) for him to do it between round four and six. A points verdict won't attract too much support, even at 3.75.
Wasted journey for the Belgian
Genk native Francesco Patera arrives in England with the weight of the crowd and the expectations of experts dead against him. The 25-year-old travels with a 19-3-0 record but his recent form is somewhat sketchy, each of the three defeats coming in his last seven bouts.
Patera lost a unanimous decision for this title to Luke Campbell conqueror Yvan Mendy in 2016 before going down to Sean Dodd in Liverpool courtesy of a split decision result. A trip to Helsinki last December brought about the visitor's third defeat, again undone on the scorecards when seeing the hand of Edis Tatli raised after 12 rounds.
That was Francesco's third crack at the EBU title so there's no doubting his experience at this level but with an 0-3 record when challenging it's difficult to make a case for the outsider springing a surprise.
Patera 18.00 isn't expected to challenge but the fact he has never been stopped makes him an interesting opponent for Ritson. Will the form fighter continue his knockout ways against a durable, experienced rival? You've got to think so and the favourite winning in the first six rounds is the safe punt here.