By Anthony Cocks

World-rated junior middleweight Dwight ‘The Fighting Cowboy’ Ritchie 19-1 (2) and former interim WBO featherweight world title challenger Luke ‘Action’ Jackson 18-1 (8) logged their first wins of the year at different venues across two different states in Australia over the weekend.

IBF number 12 ranked Ritchie was simply too slick and too quick for South Korean 154-pound champion Jung Hoon Kang 10-10 (2), outpointing him over eight rounds for a unanimous decision win at the Whitehorse Club in East Burwood, Melbourne, Victoria on Saturday night.

The 27-year-old Ritchie, who hails from Shepparton in regional Victoria, is a former Australian and OPBF middleweight champion. With a renewed focus and dedication to his training, Ritchie has recently returned to the weight class where he began his pro career a decade ago.

Last August Ritchie claimed the IBF Australasian junior middleweight belt with a 10-round points victory over current national champion Joel Camilleri, who is scheduled to defend his crown against the undefeated Tim Tszyu at The Star in Sydney, NSW on May 15.

At the press conference to announce the Camilleri bout, Tszyu nominated Ritchie as a future opponent.

“I’ve got four fights on the horizon,” Tszyu explained at the presser in April. “First Camilleri for the Australian title, then (Dwight) Ritchie, (Michael) Zerafa and (Jeff) Horn.”

Meanwhile at the Hurstville Entertainment Centre in Sydney, NSW on Friday night Jackson scored his first knockout in a year with a third-round stoppage of Thailand’s Boonsom Phothong 17-25-2 (11). Referee Les Fear crowned Jackson the victor at 0:21.

The bout was Jackson’s second in a row at super featherweight.

“You can only beat who is put in front of you,” said Jackson, 34, who is planning to return to the ring in August. “Opponents change, last minute pull-outs are part of the business unfortunately, but there’s no such thing as an easy fight.

“The hours, days, weeks, months and years of hard work isn’t for everyone.”

It was Jackson’s second fight back since his gritty yet ultimately unsuccessful challenge to interim WBO featherweight champion Carl Frampton in Belfast, Northern Ireland last August.

The proud Hobartian, who recently relocated to Sydney to be nearer his coach Billy Hussein, still hasn’t given up hope of another world title shot with undefeated Mexican WBO featherweight boss Oscar Valdez 25-0 (20) clearly in his sights.