Lewis Ritson to spar WBO world title challenger Mikkel LesPierre in New York

Lewis Ritson’s ‘rehabilitation’ will be tested today when he takes to the ring with a world championship challenger.

‘The Sandman’ is booked in for 10 rounds of sparring with New York-based Mikkel LesPierre, who is having a tilt at WBO light-welterweight champion Maurice Hooker next month.

LesPierre, originally from Trinidad & Tobago but not plying his trade in the Big Apple, is one of the star turns of Gleason’s gym, where Ritson’s coach, Neil Fannan, has been training his boxers ahead of Tommy Ward’s WBO world super-bantamweight eliminator next Friday.

While Ward, clearly, is the number one priority while in the USA, Ritson’s build-up to his fourth defence of the British lightweight title, against Andy Townsend in London on March 23, is not a million miles away.

“Matchroom offered to get a warm-up for Lewis,” Fannan told punch-lines. “But I’m happy to do it this way.

“These will be gym fights against a very good fighter.

“When I was making the arrangements to come to Gleason’s I told them I had a very good lightweight who is unbeaten as British champion and that he is fit and ready to spar.

“They have Mikkel LesPierre in their gym who is fighting Maurice Hooker next month, so I thought ‘that’s not bad for Lewis’.”

Not bad at all in fact. Unbeaten LesPierre holds a 21-0-1 (10) record.

Fannan has been impressed with how not only how Ritson has trained since his move to Hartlepool, but his attitude.

Punch-lines used rehabilitation in inverted commas at the top of this piece given Ritson is not coming back from a serious injury or some sort of disaster – his challenge for the European lightweight title ended in a split decision defeat and to an excellent operator in Francesco Patera.

The Phil Jeffries-managed star has not become a bad fighter overnight.

“People will see a better Lewis Ritson when he boxes again, I have no doubts about that,” added Fannan.

“Training has gone very well.”

Words: Roy Kelly Picture: Jennifer Charlton

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