The fighting pride of Shepparton, Dwight ‘Cowboy’ Ritchie, is hell-bent on taking his boxing career to the next level.
Sitting pretty with his 18-1 record, as well as the International Boxing Federation Australasian super welterweight belt, Ritchie, 27, is by no means content with his position on the fringes of the world’s boxing scene.
The IBF’s number 12-ranked super welterweight, Ritchie is putting his belt on the line next month, tackling South Korean champion Jung Hoon Yang in a bid to push inside the top 10.
Scheduled for April 27 at Springvale, Ritchie expected a fierce fight from a warrior who does not know the meaning of the word ‘quit’.
‘‘He’s a tough walk-up boy who’s been in there with a few Japanese champions,’’ he said.
‘‘He’s really tough and comes to fight. I’ve seen a couple of his fights and he looks like he’ll be there all night, but he tends to wear his opponents down and win on will.
‘‘I’ll be looking to box from the outside and use my angles, get off my stuff from the outside without getting hit.’’
By the time the opening bell dings, Ritchie will have had eight months out of the ring since a dominant, unanimous decision win against Joel Camilleri, which secured his prized belt.
He has spent the time continuing to shape himself into a perfectly carved fighting machine, enlisting a local personal trainer to keep him as fit as a fiddle.
‘‘I won the title in the middle of last year, the last six or seven months, I’ve got a local guy Troy Tremellen on board from VI.PT Lifestyle,’’ Ritchie said.
‘‘He’s really helping me get my strength and conditioning and nutrition on point. He’s really helping me take my game to new levels, getting my fitness and weight management under control.
‘‘I’ve been working away just trying to get better, travelling around sparring, just making sure if any chance comes up I can take it.’’
Looking to April’s title fight, Ritchie expected no matter what he throws at his South Korean foe, Yang will eat the punch and keep walking forward in search of more punishment.
It means the ability to go the distance is a must — but Shepparton’s finest was not worried about that.
‘‘It’s fun when you win, but I do like a walk-up fighter and being able to counter and use my feet, it suits my style,’’ Ritchie said.
‘‘But the will and determination is something else from a lot of these Asian fighters.
‘‘Troy has really helped me and given me the confidence to be able to 10 to 12 rounds.’’
Once the title defence is ticked off, Ritchie said he would be ready to get back to action as soon as possible, plotting his way to get a shot at his division’s champion.
‘‘I want to try and get my way to someone like Jeff Horn or even someone over in the (United) States,’’ he said.
‘‘I want to break into that top 10 in the world to get my chance at the champ.
‘‘The next 12 to 18 months is about hopefully getting three or four fights in and getting to a position to challenge the champion.’’