Lewis Ritson will face Jeremias Ponce in a final eliminator for the IBF Super-Lightweight title at the Vertu Motors Arena, Newcastle on Saturday June 12, live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN in the US and more than 200 countries and territories.
The main event in the 9,000-seat arena will be allowed as many as 1,000 ticket-paying attendees under England's current COVID-19 protocol, but further details on tickets are expected to be announced this coming Thursday.
The IBF title currently belongs to Josh Taylor, who defeated Jose Ramirez this past Saturday to become the undisputed champions with all four major titles in his possession at 140lbs. The Scot has spoken of his desire to make a defence of the titles at a huge hometown location such as Edinburgh Castle or Hampden Park, and the winner of this fight could end up being that challenger.
‘The Sandman’ won a controversial split decision against Miguel Vazquez behind closed doors at the East of England Arena in Peterborough last time out in October to claim the vacant WBA Intercontinental belt and improve his record to 21-1 (12 KOs).
In his last fight in front of his Newcastle faithful, Ritson produced a career-best performance to beat bitter rival Robbie Davies Jr., and the 27-year-old says he can’t wait to get back in front of his fanatical support against undefeated Argentinian Ponce.
“It was a strange experience behind closed doors last time so I’m thrilled fans will be returning, it’s always loud in Newcastle and I’m proud to have them behind me cheering me on,” said Ritson.
“Ponce likes to come forward, throw a few good body shots and he’s got a decent jab. We’re expecting and have prepared for a tough fight and it should be given what’s at stake.
“I’m one or two fights away from being world champion now, that’s the dream for any boxer and to be in touching distance now is spurring me on with this final eliminator locked in."
The 24-year-old Ponce, from Buenos Aires, won the South American title in 2019 by outpointing fellow Argentine Leonardo Amitrano, and became IBO champion later that year with a points win in Berlin over Germany’s Rico Muller on his debut outside the Americas.
He boxed twice in late 2020, both all-Argentinian confrontations, firstly stopping Ruben Lopez in 90 seconds before being pushed all the way by southpaw Jonathan Eniz over 10 rounds, and heads into his showdown with Geordie favourite Ritson on the back of a 27-fight winning streak.
“I'm really looking forward to the fight,” said Ponce. “I've already become world champion in Europe when I won the IBO crown against Rico Mueller and after my win against Ritson on June 12 I am aiming to win another world title. I’m ready to box anyone in my weight class.”
"This is a huge fight for Lewis Ritson, he is one fight away from a shot at the undisputed championship," added Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn.
"We should be having the full 9,000 in Newcastle but right now 1,000 is going to feel like a full house and I can’t wait to see the fans again in Newcastle - I expect this main event to be a war."