Corner to Corner
Words: Jon Sutton
Images: Lawrence Lustig, Matchroom Boxing
On Saturday night in Newcastle, Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing juggernaut rolled into town, bringing big time boxing back to the North East of England.
The fans and the fighters from this forgotten corner of the UK boxing scene were treated to a bruising bevvie of battles with a joint headline that showcased both the heavy hands of Lewis Ritson and the slick stylings of the Pretty Boy himself, Josh Kelly – propelling both to future stardom.
But in the opposite corner of the UK, far away in the Welsh Valleys, sits another group of largely forgotten ex-mining towns – and a group of ferocious fighters waiting for their own chance to step into the bright lights, the title fights and the hearts & minds of the boxing public.
Although Matchroom have been instumental in bringing world-class fight nights to Cardiff, it is usually to the advantage of boxing’s bigger names, rather than the local heroes who are left without a spot on the undercard in their own homeland. And this impact is doubled since local fans are unlikely to shell out for a bill of Welsh warriors, after already breaking the bank to watch Anthony Joshua’s latest dance.
So what if these newly crowned kings of the North gave a slice of the primetime-pie to their Valley-based counterparts… in the form of a televised fight night? (Step up Eddie!)
Jon Sutton imagines the potential match ups for Saturday’s two victorious Tynesiders against fighters from the teak-tough towns of South Wales.
Josh Kelly has started to make something of a name for himself across the North East in recent years, as a local-level-Lomachenko.
And having dominated Australian Kris George to claim the commonwealth crown Saturday night on the Sky Sports Action channel, he has now put himself in a position to move beyond that local level.
His slipping and sliding style makes a mockery of most opponents, but will it last? Luckily for Kelly, Kris George was no ferocious puncher, but he did catch Kelly with a number of shots, causing pundits to sit up and take notice.
Another slick fighter (and there are plenty at welterweight) could exploit the low guard technique – and a big hitter could seriously punish Josh Kelly for employing it.
UP AGAINST JOSH KELLY, FIGHT SCENE PICKS…
Though not yet fighting at Kelly’s level, Pontypool’s Gething is another welterweight that likes to use his skills to duck under bombs (see the Bradley Pryce epic) and pop up to land devastating combinations of his own.
But Kieran keeps his hands up the entire time, so it’s unlikely he ‘d walk onto a shot.
Would he have the power to trouble Kelly? Maybe. Maybe not. Neither Gething or Kelly are known as massive punchers. But when you’re that quick and technical, who needs super human power? Who needs to over-commit? Gething can land punches in bunches and that might just be enough.
What is certain is that their styles could be absolutely made for the fans and could turn this fight into a great spectacle of British boxing at it’s best.
Anyone expecting Lewis Ritson to grind out a two-sided battle when he faced Paul Hyland Jnr in their grudge match on Saturday night, might have been left disappointed.
Ritson steam-rolled through his super flyweight opponent in the first round, knocking him down three times before it was halted, and thus propelled himself into contention for world titles.
Ten of Ritson’s sixteen victims have fallen in similar fashion (although none so fast), but how does he get on over a longer distance against a super fit fighter? And since he likes to bang on the inside, how would Ritson get on against a tall, rangey fighter, with a strong amateur pedigree and fast hands both inside and out?
UP AGAINST LEWIS RITSON, FIGHT SCENE PICKS…
Like Kieran Gething and Josh Kelly, Gavin Gwynne is a little low on numbers in his professional fight column, but he’s unbeaten for a reason beyond low numbers… he can switch.
At six foot, Gwynne has the range to get out of any trouble he gets himself into, but he’s got himself into plenty.
Early on in his career he picked up a name for himself as an out and out battler with a go-to-war-for-the-fans style. Gwynne loves to throw fast, heavy hooks & uppercuts in the trenches, even if it means taking a few himself, before he finds refuge in the longer distance.
If he could find the distance early though, dragging Lewis Ritson into a frustrating chess match before taking it to him in the later rounds once he’s burned out, Gwynne could take advantage of the fact that Ritson’s fast start.
Ritson has only been the distance six times and only one of those was a twelve-rounder.
Gwynne has never even fought a twelve-rounder yet, but his work ethic is strong enough to the fuel the engine and his work rate is high enough to give Ritson nightmares if he comes forward in his usual style.