Lewis Ritson says there'll be less pressure against Miguel Vazquez with no fans
Newcastle fighter Lewis Ritson main events the Matchroom card on Saturday in Peterborough, but his big test against former world champion boxer Miguel Vazquez was supposed to have a much different feel.
Initially set for April 4 and then June 27 only for both cards to be scrapped as the COVID-19 pandemic froze live boxing for several months, the super-lightweight showdown could either propel Ritson into world title contention or return Mexico's former IBF lightweight kingpin to the big stage.
Promoter Eddie Hearn had a big crowd of Ritson's local fans in mind when targeting the Utilita Arena for the show. Now, a coronavirus-protected "bubble" further south will have to suffice.
Will the lack of 10,000 fans cheering him on hinder Ritson's chances? He doesn't think so.
"I think it’ll be a lot less pressure on me with nobody there," he said at the final pre-fight press conference. "I miss my fans, but there’ll be no pressure behind closed doors.
"I’ve been sparring with a lot of good fighters during lockdown. It’s really helped us in that respect.
"I’m ready more than ever. I haven’t watched a lot of Vazquez, but I know that when my coach gives me a gameplan, I just need to follow it.
"We’re not going to look for a knockout but we’ll see how it goes. When my coach tells me to step it up a gear, I will."
Ritson was also fast to close down any discussion of future opponents until Saturday's job is done.
"The next step is just trying to get past Vazquez," explained the 27-year-old. "I’m not looking at anyone else. If I can get past him, then we can start looking with names.
Vazquez, meanwhile, who has fought Saul "Canelo" Alvarez twice in his lengthy professional career as well as a host of other top names, was really excited at the prospect of finally facing Ritson
"We’ve been training for a long, long time," the 33-year-old said via an interpreter. "I’m up against a really tough fighter.
"It’s a great opportunity, it’s a really big fight for me and it’s not easy at all, which is why I’ve been preparing hard for this.
"People can expect a Miguel Vazquez that is ready to win and ready to fight for world titles again."
Ritson vs. Vazquez airs live on Saturday, Oct. 17 on Sky Sports in the U.K. and DAZN in the U.S.