By Lucy MacDonald

Boxing is at it’s very best right now. No weekend goes without a fight night or three, the audience is growing, and the fights that fans want to see are being delivered.

Probellum arrived on the scene in September 2021 with a vision to champion the grassroots and bring together the best fighters for fans around the world. So far, so good.  

Tyneside is home to some of the most passionate football fans in the world, and the same passion is evident when one of their own jumps through the ropes.

Courtesy of Richard Schaefer of Probellum, and their new signings, a big night of boxing lands on their doorstep tonight.

Some of the North East’s most exciting prospects will take to the stage at the Utilita Arena this weekend. The show will be headlined by fan-favourite, Lewis Ritson. The ‘Sandman’ signed with Probellum after suffering disappointment last year in a loss to Jeremias Ponce at the Vertus Motors Arena. Similar to their football clubs, Ritson’s fans will be behind him, win, lose or draw, and are excited for his return to the Toon.  

Mastermind of the North East boxing scene, Phil Jeffries, spoke first at the press conference.  

“I believe boxing in the Northeast is on a boom. With Richard and Probellum on our side, I can see I can see us getting many, many world champions. We’ve got a load of boxers coming through, we’ve got Lewis Ritson, we’ve got Tommy Ward, we’ve now got Pat McCormack, we’ve got Ben Rees, the Dickinson’s. I just think it is going to be a fantastic day of boxing. I just want the Northeast fans to show Richard what we’re all about. I believe we’re going to be the hotbed of boxing in the next eighteen months.” 

Attention then shifted to the man behind it all, boxing promotor and President of Probellum, Richard Schaefer, who shared his excitement to be bringing boxing back to the North East.  

“We want your fighters to win world titles, right here, in Newcastle. We want them to defend their titles, right here, in Newcastle.  

“I hear it is going to be a great atmosphere. I am looking forward to meeting and seeing many of the fight fans here, I just can’t wait.” 

For fans in the North East, this is a golden opportunity to continue their support for Ritson and get behind some of boxings future stars.  

Back to business, and back to himself, Ritson took to the microphone to speak of his upcoming fight with Montenegro’s Dejan Zlaticanin.  

“I am very excited. It is going to be absolutely bouncing in there, the atmosphere, its going to be unreal. I am fit as a fiddle and ready to get the job done on Friday. 

“A very big puncher in Dejan, we’re going to have to be on our game, because, if we’re not I’ll be lying on the canvas. We’re going to bring our A game, we’re going to get that win and have people talking about us again.” 

Outstanding amateur, Pat McCormack, will make his highly anticipated debut on the card. The journey to achieve the dream of becoming a world champion starts here. His trainer, Ben Davison, declared his confidence that the dream will become a reality.  

“Everybody knows about Pat’s pedigree as an amateur. Sometimes it’s difficult to make that adjustment into the professional ranks but I have worked with numerous world champions and how quickly Pat has made that adjustment, he looks like a world champion now. He’s made that adjustment already. He will be a world champion; it’s just about getting the experience.” 

After years of relentless hard work and sheer dedication, McCormack will undoubtedly make some waves in the professional game. He told of just what this will mean to him.  

“It’s unbelievable. Obviously, Lewis Ritson has been flying the flag for the Northeast for a long time, but now we’ve got a few more to carry the flag with him. There will be some big nights coming back to the North East very soon.” 

Also featuring on the card is unbeaten super-welterweight, Troy Williamson. ‘Trojan’ will be making his first defence of the British title against Mason Cartwright. In a thrilling battle with Ted Cheeseman last year, Williamson won the British title with a tenth-round knockout. If you haven’t seen that fight, watch it. You will not be disappointed. The 30-year-old has ambitions of being a world champion, and believes he is the best super-welterweight in Europe. 

“That is the aim, to be a world champion. I’ve signed with Probellum because they’re going to elevate me to that next step in my career.  

“I’ve not had the recognition I truly believe I’ve deserved, but now I’m signed with Probellum, you’re going to see a lot more of me and a lot of people are going to start talking about Troy Williamson. 

“I like to bring excitement. I’ve got a lot of respect for Mason, I follow him on social media, I know what he’s about, I know he’s very fit, but I’ve said it before, when I hit somebody in a pair of 10-ounce gloves at eleven stone, they’re going to know about it.” 

His opponent, Cartwright, shares the same respect, however, is equally eager for Friday to be his night.  

“I am going to be in there to hurt him, the exact same. We’re both in there to do the same thing. There is a mutual respect before and after the bell but when the bell goes, it’s go time.” 

With an incredible professional record of 31-0-1, Tommy Ward will feature on the card, fighting Alexis Kabore in the featherweight division. With one of the longest reigning unbeaten records in the country, Ward is in touching distance of a world title.  

“I am going to go out there and be me. I believe I am good enough to beat anybody and the world titles are the ones that I want. I ask for the world champions to fight, any of them, but it’s getting in the position to make the fights happen. That is the reason I am with Probellum now, they can source the fights and secure them, that’s what I want.” 

If you’re listening to any podcast or talk show discussing UK prospects recently, it is very unlikely that you will listen without hearing the name Mark Dickinson. Having already impressed the boxing world with his first two performances as a professional, the 22-year-old will look to make it three wins out of three on Friday night. Training under the guidance of Ben Davison, he has a dream of becoming a multi-weight world champion.  

“I’m fighting a man with a winning record on Friday, so this is where you’ll see me shine. This is where you’re going to see the best Mark Dickinson so far. 

“I’m working in the gym all the time, I live away from home, I’ve spent the last twelve weeks locked away in Essex training and it’s all going to pay off on Friday night, one hundred percent. 

I don’t believe there are many fighters out there who work as hard in the gym as me.” 

Another of the North East’s most exciting prospects, Ben Rees, will make his professional debut on the card. A large majority of the fighters from the North East now entering the professional game, and signing with Probellum, originate from Birtley Boxing Club. They all speak exceedingly highly of Rees, or ‘Big Tasty,’ and are confident that his talent will take him all the way. The man himself believes strongly in his own ability.  

“It’s been a long time coming now. I’ve been flat out since Christmas training with the coaches at Birtley. Training has gone amazing, now it is time to reap the rewards and smash it on my debut.   

“I have an amazing boxing brain, I can box but if I need to fight as well, I can do that. I can do everything; I can mix it up. I want to go all the way, that’s why I joined Probellum, so they can take me to the top.” 

Tonight promises to deliver a huge night of boxing for the fans in Newcastle and for the viewers around the world. You can start this journey, together with the fighters of the future, via Eurosport’s live broadcast from 9pm.  

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