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Unbeaten Jeremias Ponce looks to make a statement vs. Lewis Ritson in IBF elimination bout

Jeremias Ponce. Photo by Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
Fighters Network

Not too long ago, Jeremias Ponce was considered one of Argentina’s most likely to succeed. A young, tall, unbeaten fighter with smooth boxing skills and decent power. A few bumps on the road later, he is still up there in an elite group of fighters with huge chances of success in the future, but not without one or two asterisks in his record.

And on this Saturday, June 12, Ponce (27-0, 17 KOs) will have the chance to prove just how much his critics were wrong when he faces Lewis Ritson (21-1, 12 KOs) in a final eliminator for the IBF junior welterweight belt at the Eagles Community Arena in Ritson’s hometown of Newcastle, England (Sky Sports in the UK, DAZN in the U.S.).

It will not be Ponce’s first foray into enemy territory. In September 2019, he traveled to Germany to face Rico Muller for a minor title belt in the Verti Music Hall at Friedrishchain, and emerged with an invaluable win that propelled his image, dominating his tough opponent and gaining a huge measure of confidence that will certainly help him in this upcoming fight, the first one in more than 18 months to feature a live audience for Ponce.

“My experience abroad helps me a lot, and I will be relaxed in that regard. It was a tough fight that helped me gain a lot of confidence,” Ponce said during a telephone interview from the seat of his plane as he was leaving for Europe. “I feel really good for this fight, and the training was better than in my previous fights. I didn’t have any problems to travel or find sparring partners.”

This time, Ponce will need all the mojo he can conjure against Ritson. In Mueller, Ponce found a foe willing to trade leather and prove himself in front of his countrymen. If “The Sandman” Ritson provides the same level of opposition, the fireworks will definitely be there.

And if Ritson finds it more convenient to let Ponce do the hard work and wait for a mistake, Ponce claims he’s ready for him as well.

“I saw Ritson’s fights,” said Ponce. “He is a fast boxer who likes to mix up his punches, it’s going to be a good fight. I’ll just see how it goes, but I am as ready to attack as I am to counterpunch.”

Ponce’s ability to adapt to any scenario should be considered one of his main assets. He did just that in his last bout, when he faced perennial trialhorse Jonathan Eniz in Argentina. After being dropped in the third round and finding himself in trouble throughout the bout, Ponce fought his way back to a close unanimous decision win in which he had to dig deep into his bag boxing skills to become victorious.

Previously, he was the beneficiary of a hasty stoppage win in a fight he was dominating widely against Ruben Lopez, in what was Ponce’s first fight under the Chino Maidana Promotions banner, one of the first cards that took place in Argentina under COVID-19 protocols in a drive-in theater. But it was before that (in April 2019, five months before his fight against Mueller) that Ponce had his toughest test to date when he was rewarded with a split decision win over Leonardo Amitrano in a South American title fight. In a foul-infested, back-and-forth slugfest, Ponce was given the benefit of the doubt in a fight that many observers believed Amitrano had won. So much so, that the Argentine Boxing Federation mandated an immediate rematch (which would never materialize).

Ritson (right) against Miguel Vazquez. Photo courtesy of Sky Sports

It is, perhaps, the conjunction of this dubious points win coupled with Ritson’s controversial split decision win against Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez in Peterborough back in October 2020 what makes this fight so intriguing. Ritson himself expressed those feelings in a recent interview, and so did Ponce in this one as well.

“I share his opinion! He is right, it won’t be an easy fight for any of us two. We both want to win,” said Ponce, who also went as far as brushing off Ritson’s positive comments about Ponce’s style. “I don’t care much about other people’s opinions, regardless of whether they are good or bad. I take them with a pinch of salt,” he said.

With the outcome of this bout determining who enters the top tier of the talent-laden 140-pound championship picture, and with Scotland’s Josh Taylor owning all four of the available major belts, the chances of either Ponce or Ritson gaining access to a title fight hinge on Taylor either abandoning one of his belts or digging down deep into the rankings for a future title defense. Ponce bets on either one (or more) of those scenarios in his quest to become Argentina’s next champion.

“I would love to fight Taylor, that would be a dream. There are rumors that he will be making the jump to another division, though. If I do win this fight I will be ready to fight anyone on the same level, anyway. Any opponent that they put in front of me will be fine.”

Also appearing on this card:

Patrick Ward (29-0-1, 4 KOs) vs. Edy Valencia (17-5-6, 5 KOs), 10 rounds, featherweights.

Cyrus Pattinson (debut) vs. Yoncho Markov (4-2, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, junior middleweight

Alen Babic (6-0, 6 KOs) vs TBD, heavyweights

Ellie Scotney (2-0) vs. Vanesa Caballero (4-9-3), 8 rounds, female junior featherweight

Solomon Dacres (1-0) vs. Alvaro Terrero (5-11-2, 3 KOs) 6 rounds, heavyweights

Joe Laws (9-1, 5 KOs) vs. Nestor Maradiaga (9-10-2, 5 KOs), 6 rounds, welterweights

April Hunter (3-0) meets Hungary’s Klaudia Vigh (3-27-1, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, female welterweights