Lewis Ritson suffers shock split decision defeat to Francesco Patera for European title


The Newcastle favourite was upset by an unfancied Belgian in his own back yard

Hometown hero Lewis Ritson suffered a shock split decision defeat to Francesco Patera on Saturday night in Newcastle, live on talkSPORT.

The Belgian former European champion conjured up the perfect game plan to regain the lightweight belt that he previously held in 2017, breaking the hearts of 9,000 Geordie fans in attendance.

One judge scored the bout in Lewis Ritson’s favour, but the other two ruled against him

One judge scored the bout in Lewis Ritson’s favour, but the other two ruled against him

Ritson began the fight on the front foot, as always, though this didn’t deter Patera as the pair exchanged jabs early on.

The away fighter was unphased by his opponent’s power and pressure, but did end up with a bloodied nose by the end of the second after losing the battle of the jabs.

In the next couple of sessions, the former champion landed some flashy shots, but it was thought that he was continuing to be slowly worn down.

However, come round five, Francesco Patera began to turn the tables and stopped Lewis Ritson in his tracks for the first time in the fight as he put together multiple high-quality combinations and dug in one stand-out body punch that seriously hurt the Brit.

Tougher times continued for home favourite in the rounds that followed as he attempted to keep up his relentless pressure, while the Belgian simply smiled and fired back with his own shots.

Francesco Patera reclaimed his old title

Francesco Patera reclaimed his old title

At the end of the seventh, Ritson was saved by the bell as Patera flipped the script entirely and had his man severely hurt with a right hook, backing him up onto the ropes for the first time in the fight.

After making it through the eighth and ninth, the bout seemed very close and all was still to fight for as the pair entered the championship rounds.

Francesco Patera then began to pile on the pressure himself, having seemingly saved his energy in the early rounds and conditioned himself to perfection in training.

By the end of the tenth, Lewis Ritson was hanging on for dear life and arguably saved by the bell once again after being smashed with yet another menacing body shot.

After surviving that onslaught, the Newcastle man came back out to give his all in the following three minutes and seemingly troubled Patera in fleeting moments.

However, it didn’t prove to be enough as the pair went toe to toe in a fantastic final round before the bell rang to bring an end to the thrilling contest.

The scores were read out as a split decision with one judge having scored the fight 116:112 for Ritson.

He was ultimately overruled by the other two decision makers, who both had the bout 116-112 for Patera.

“I just want to apologise to everyone that’s come out,” a devastated Lewis Ritson said in his post-fight interview.

“It wasn’t the performance that I wanted tonight. I got hit with a body shot in the fifth round and I just couldn’t recover from there.

“He wasn’t better than what we thought, after four rounds it was going to plan. The better man won on the night, back to the drawing board now.”

While most in the arena looked disconsolate, the away corner understandably celebrated jubilantly, having beaten the 1/66 pre-fight favourite.

“I knew I could do it,” declared Francesco Patera. “I trained my heart out, I knew I could beat this guy.

“They were overlooking me. Everybody won money!

“I saw he had a reaction [to the fifth-round body shot] so I knew I hurt him, I’m a warrior man.”

Earlier in the night, Robbie Davies Jr claimed the British and Commonwealth super-lightweight titles with a unanimous dcision victory over Glenn Foot.

Also on the undercard, both Joshua Buatsi and Dave Allen won by first-round knockout.

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Boxing – talkSPORT

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