Lewis Ritson v Paul Hyland Jr fight preview

British lightweight champion Lewis Ritson takes on Paul Hyland Jr at the Metro Arena in his hometown of Newcastle on Saturday.

Ritson won the title with an impressive seventh round stoppage win over Robbie Barrett last year and has won all of his fights since inside the distance.

‘The Sandman’ has an impressive knockout record with nine of his 15 victories so far coming via stoppages, but Northern Irishman Hyland Jr arguably represents his toughest challenge to date.

Saturday’s showdown will be the first time Ritson has come up against another undefeated fighter and both will be desperate to protect the respective zeros on their records.

Belfast native Hyland has 18 wins so far, seven of which have come inside the distance, although the 27-year-old hasn’t faced the same level of opponent as Ritson has.

Hyland is the massive underdog at 6.25, with Ritson the 1.10 favourite.

The fight may be closer than the odds suggest but Ritson, roared on by a home crowd, should be able to come out on top.

Ritson is currently one of the lesser known names promoted by Matchroom, but his title defences have all been eye-catching displays and he has indicated he will move on from the domestic level if he gets past Hyland.

The 24-year-old appears to have the right mindset as he has stressed he won’t underestimate his opponent, but he will surely already have his eye on the likes of Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell a bit further down the line.

Ritson secured a devastating second round win over Scott Cardle in his last bout and that win, over a decent fighter, sent out a big message at British and European level.  The holder may not have it quite as easy on Saturday but he has real knockout power, particularly at the 135lbs level, and will be looking for another stoppage before setting his sights on some bigger targets.