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Lewis Ritson rips through Paul Hyland Jr to win British Lightweight title outright

Paul Hyland Jr was blasted out in a round tonight in his challenge for the British lightweight title.

The Belfast 135lber was stopped by champion Lewis Ritson at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, live on Sky Sports, being dropped thrice by the heavy-hitting Geordie.

While he rose from all three knockdowns – and went toe-to-toe with the champ – referee Steve Gray had seen enough and waved the bout off just before the end of the opening round.

Ritson, who was long-hyped on the small hall circuit, burst onto the scene last October when he dethroned British champion Robbie Barrett, stopping him in the seventh round. This destructive performance won him a contract with Matchroom and he defended the British title twice in quick succession with early knockouts of Joe Murray and Scott Cardle.

With two successful defences in the bag, Ritson was looking to defeat Hyland and win the famous Lonsdale belt outright and did so in double-quick fashion.

Hyland had himself enjoyed a break-out 2017, scoring career-changing wins over Peter Cope, Adam Dingsdale, and Stephen Ormond. Having suffered a broken jaw in his controversial win over Ormond in October, Hyland had a spell on the sidelines but was made mandatory challenger in the interim and warmed up for tonight with an entertaining win over David Birmingham in April.

The Belfast fighter’s stablemates and sparring partners Ronnie Clark and James Tennyson had scored upset wins in recent months over Zelfa Barrett and Martin J Ward respectively and Team Hyland entered tonight’s bout confident of making it a MHD hat-trick.

It was not to be though, with the big-punching Ritson bludgeoning his way to a stoppage win in just under three minutes.

‘The Sandman’ had come in two ounces over at the weigh-in yesterday, subsequently losing the excess weight, and looked to hold a significant size advantage over Hyland following rehydration.

Ritson forced Hyland back early with heavy jabs and the Lagmore man hit the floor for the first time after just two minutes having shipped a big right hand.

Taking the eight-count, Hyland rose and elected to go to war and was put down two more times in the exchanges – rising quickly in both instances and wanting to continue but the bout was called.

It makes for an unhappy birthday for Hyland who turns 28 tomorrow and he drops to 18(7)-1(1), applauding his defeator as the result was read out. The impressive Ritson improves to 16(10)-0 and will now looked to be matched with the likes of Matchroom stablemates Luke Campbell, Anthony Crolla, and Tommy Coyle.


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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie