Francesco Patera scored an upset of sorts when he outpunched and outlasted hometown favourite Lewis Ritson to land the European lightweight title in Newcastle last night.
Patera did not appear overawed despite the vociferous atmosphere inside the Metro Radio Arena. Scoring points upstairs and down in the first five sessions the visitor was able to work efficiently off his jab, and early indications suggested that Patera was genuinely capable of extending Ritson and giving him the vital rounds he so desperately needed. As it turns out, Francesco wasn’t just there to offer rounds; he was there to win them.
The bout was keenly contested throughout, and Patera did the better work in enough rounds to prompt some observers to sense that an upset may be on the cards. Patera’s left hooks to the body were sucking the life out of Ritson, 25, and the away man enjoyed continued success in the seventh round. The collective spirit of the crowd was also significantly dampened as their man rallied hard but was notably struggling with the pressure.
Ritson’s ability to smash through opponents is well known, but could be revert to a Plan B and outbox a stubborn foe? The answer was no, and Patera’s hugely successful body attack was wearing the Forest Hall man down to such a degree that he was visibly wilting. The pressure of expectation and the tanking his ribs were taking, round after round, combined to steal away much of Ritson’s resolve.
Fans online wondered what sort of scorecards the judges would hand in. 116-112 was the verdict, on all three totals. One judge had it to Ritson and two to Patera; rightly crowning the Belgian boxer his victory and awarding him the vacant EBU crown.