Paul Hyland determined to succeed in Italian job against European champion Francesco Patera
IF RITSON beat Hyland and Patera beat Ritson, does Paul Hyland have a chance against Patera?
Yes, Hyland will be the underdog when he faces the current EBU Lightweight champion in Milan on June 28, but boxing fans will know – and Andy Ruiz’s shock win against Anthony Joshua proved – that styles make fights and past achievements often count for very little when the bell goes.
Hyland got up close and personal with Francesco Patera when their title fight was announced in Milan last month and the experienced Belfast fighter (20-1) left Italy with the distinct impression that the Belgian – who scored a shock points win to take the title off Ritson in October last year – is overlooking him.
Hyland, who lost a British title challenge against Ritson in Newcastle-upon-Tyne last year, is determined to gain Patera’s respect when they go head-to-head in Milan on June 28.
“No two fights ever work out the same,” he said.
“You’d be a fool to think that because Ritson beat me and Patera beat Ritson, Patera will beat me and I think Patera’s style will suit me better. Ritson was strong but I fought the wrong fight against him.
“Patera wouldn’t be as big a puncher as Ritson and I don’t think he’ll be able to hurt me although he’s very fit. I had a very tough 12-round fight with Stephen Ormond and I think it’s going to play out the same as that. I am training really hard, I’m really putting it in because it’s going to go the distance, I can’t see me stopping him because he’s been in with some good lads and they’ve all gone the distance.
“I feel that I have a better boxing brain than him and I think I can out-work him.”
A year has passed since Hyland was knocked out by Ritson. The defeat, the first of his career, was a massive disappointment to him and it came after the home favourite caught him with a shot on the back of his head. Dazed, he threw hell-for-leather but big-hitting Ritson came out on top.
“He hit me above the ear and I looked at the ref, he said ‘fight on’ and Ritson came flying at me like a bull,” Hyland recalled.
“He knew he had me rocked. My left leg was numb but I was trying to fight on and, instead of holding on, I tried to stand and go toe-to-toe with him which was wrong because I didn’t have my full balance back.
“The way Patera fought him was the way we wanted to fight him but I just didn’t get to do it.”
Hyland will be 29 a week after the Patera fight and has packed a lot of action into a professional career that began less than three years ago. He hopes his experience will tell in Milan.
“I think Patera is going to underestimate me because I lost to Ritson,” he said.
“He’s good and he knows he’s good but I hope they do underestimate me because he’ll get a shock. I learned a lot from the defeat, I was too nervous going over there and I’ve experienced all that now.
“I don’t think I’m going to be in that atmosphere, going into the lion’s den, like I was against Ritson. Patera won’t have the same crowd and I’ll be ready for this one. I’ve learned how to focus better and how to cope under pressure.”
Hyland will be busy over the next three weeks working with his coaching team to get down to the 9 stone 9lbs lightweight limit and sparring with the likes of Anto Cacace, James Tennyson, Victor Rabei and Sean Duffy.
“I’m confident,” he said.
“I’ve watched him and he’s a good champion and I know I’m the underdog but I’ll be looking to take that title home.”
EDDIE Hearn plans to lure Andy Ruiz Jr to the UK for a rematch with Anthony Joshua.
The new IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion caused one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history on Saturday night at New York's Madison Square Garden, where he stunned Joshua to stop him in the seventh round.
A rematch clause is likely to be exercised for a date in November or December - when Joshua had already planned to again fight in the event of victory - but where his unsuccessful United States debut had been intended to continue building his profile, it is where he remains undefeated that the rematch is likely to be staged.
Joshua's previous fight had been at Wembley Stadium but its lack of a roof and the UK winter is likely to rule out a return there. The roof at Cardiff's Principality Stadium therefore makes a third fight there probable, as is a return to an indoor arena such as London's O2.
"We didn't know what was coming next, in November, December, now we do," said Hearn. "But there's a lot of pressure on that fight; the rematch is huge.
"For me, it should be the UK, but we'll sit down as a team and look at everything.
"I know it didn't go our way but we said we wanted to create a night that people would remember for a long time; unfortunately they'll remember it for a shock defeat and an incredible night of boxing.
"But that's OK; revenge will be sweet and I believe he'll get it."
Joshua ruled out the prospect of accepting a rebuilding fight before pursuing an immediate rematch, and the 29-year-old said: "Look out for the end of the year, and what's next.
"I'll tidy up, brush off the cobwebs and go again. But it's a minor setback.
"Trust me, where I was at in life, I've dealt with more s*** than this, with some real big losses, and bounced back.
"I'm not dwelling on it. You just correct it, you adjust, you sit down, you focus and you go again."
Ruiz Jr, also 29 and Mexico's first world heavyweight champion, revealed that he had long seen flaws in Joshua that he believed he could expose.
He accepted Saturday's fight with little more than a month's notice, and said: "I'm going to get back in the gym and work even harder; I'm actually more motivated now I'm the champion.
"Before this fight, I always said I wanted to fight Joshua because I knew I could beat him, I knew he opened up too much. My speed and movement was always going to be too much for him."