United legend backing Ritson for Euro glory
IT is the Match of the Day, no question, and so it is totally right Alan Shearer should be at the centre of a classic Geordie occasion.
International fortnight means a free weekend for the Beeb’s top football man and he is to spend it this Saturday night ringside when Lewis Ritson goes for broke attempting to add the European lightweight title to the Lonsdale Belt he hs already won outright as British champion.
Ritson and Shearer go together like fish and chips. Bread and butter. Good wine and cheese. Why? Think about it...
Shearer was Ritson’s boyhood hero, as he was for so many young Geordies in his pomp as United’s finest ever legendary No 9.
Ritson, a proud Geordie and genuine Magpie, fights in black-andwhite striped shorts and wears the Newcastle United club badge, having received official blessing after an initial hiccup over its legality.
Lke the master before him, Ritson played for Wallsend Boys Club as a clever young midfielder before boxing, in which his family are steeped, took over from all else and flashing fists catapulted him towards international stardom.
Ironically, the boys club which played such a big part in the young lives of Shearer and Ritson held their annual sell-out dinner last night when another famous old boy, Manchester United’s Michael Carrick, was paying homage.
So impressed is Shearer by the Geordie kid in the hardest of professions he is attending his first boxing show live at the Newcastle Arena promising to lead the raucous choruses of Blaydon Races as Ritson does his ring walk.
The atmosphere inside Tyneside’s Arena was electric in June for the Sandman’s British title defence but he will now have his footballing hero in his corner as he challenges for the European title against Francesco Patera.
Promoter Eddie Hearn, who can make mountains move in boxing, has promised Lewis he can land a world title fight at his beloved St James’ Park next year should he defeat Patera and take a huge step along the road to ultimate stardom.
He said: “We have seen Kell Brook boxing at Bramall Lane, Anthony Joshua at the Millennium Stadium and Wembley. “These dreams can become reality. You just have to keep winning, you have to keep progressing and being involved in those big worldlevel fights. “From what I have seen in Newcastle, there is reason why St no
Lewis Ritson after becoming British lightweight champion last year James’ Park could not become a reality in 2019.”
Ritson has done 9,000 for a European fight tonight and if he can arrive on the doorstep of becoming Tyneside’s only second world champion after Glenn McCrory then St James’ Park is within his compass.
What makes Ritson stand out in a brutal profession is he has heavy hands. Real box-office fighters carry a knockout punch and our Forest Hall boy does that.
Now what is required is for him to prove he can also carry the burden of true pressure.
The weight of expectation from his people, from the presence of his hero, from the size of the titles and the interest of a world-renowned promoter like Eddie Hearn who has steered Joshua to untold heights.
He may also require the ability to resist rushing the job to appease those who demand an early and explosive finish because as each rung of the ladder is climbed the immediate task before him will inevitably become tougher.
Lewis Ritson is a young man who shuns the trappings of true fame.
He does not seek the spotlight outside of the ring. That could and should take him a long way.
We all certainly hope so. Because LR is one of us!