"Every night I lay there, sit there, visualise it - speaking it into existence."
John Ryder faces Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Guadalajara on Saturday night, attempting to become England’s first-ever undisputed male champion in the four-belt era.
Indisputably the underdog, should Ryder defeat four-weight champion Alvarez, in front of 50,000 of his countrymen, on Cinco de Mayo weekend, his victory would rank as one of the greatest ‘upsets’ in boxing history and one of the finest overseas victories by a British fighter since Honeyghan defeated Curry in 1986.
Ryder has lost five of his 37 professional bouts but is in the form of his career after impressive wins over American Daniel Jacobs and fellow Briton Zach Parker to become the WBO interim champion.
Ryder comes in to this contest with a four-fight winning streak, with impressive victories over former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs and the WBO Interim super middleweight champion, Zach Parker. Nicknamed 'The Gorilla' aged 16 for his strength and toughness, records should also show Ryder scoring a victory over – and thus already having become – Liverpool’s then WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith, but the ongoing corruption/incompetence within boxing burgled him of what would have surely been a life-affirming memory.
It was that performance that outed Ryder as a world class ‘operator’ and likely led to this lucrative opportunity against boxing’s biggest pay-per-view star; money which Ryder has stated will be spent on buying a new house for his partner and two young children.
Canelo, conversely has been on the positive end of judging irregularities (GGG in both fights one and two), though no one can dispute his quality, or his box-office appeal. Turning pro at 15 years old, he has victories over more champions than this word count allows for, though there has been the suggestion that he may now be showing signs of decline, signs that 62 training camps – that have collectively resulted in 58 victories, 2 losses and 2 draws – might finally be catching up with him.
Such sentiment appears premature to my mind. Even in apparent decline, Canelo should have ‘far too much’ for Ryder. Comfortable on the back foot or pressing the action, the style of the fight should be largely dictated by Canelo’s versatility and tactics. Ryder, with 18 KOs in 32 wins is unlikely to stop him, but is likely to fight as he usually does, looking to pressure and move forward.
Ryder, who is a devoted Arsenal fan, hopes a victory would lure Alvarez to the Emirates Stadium for a rematch. I think its more apt that we talk about what’s likely to happen if/when Canelo wins. Ryder has hinted the defeat will lead him into retirement. Regarding Canelo, I would not like to see him continue to chase fights in the light heavyweight division. Rather, now is the time for him to forget about a rematch against WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitrii Bivol and instead fight challengers in his natural (oi, oi #taintedmeat) weight classes, to tick off Ryder and then go into contests against the likes of Benevidez and Charlo, even Andrade.
Whichever reality will we step into. It will take Saturday's springboard result for us to find out.
Saul Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs)
Gennadiy Golovkin- WIN - UD (116-112, 115-113, 115-113)
Dmitrii Bivol - LOST - UD (113-115, 113-115, 113-115)
Caleb Plant - WIN - KO (round 11)
Billy Joe Saunders - WIN - Saunders retired at the end of round 8
John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs)
Zach Parker - WIN - Parker retired at the end of round 4
Daniel Jacobs - WIN - SD (115-113, 115-113, 113-115)
Jozef Jurko - WIN - KO (round 8)
Mik Guy - WIN - UD (100-90, 99-91, 96-94)
Date: Sunday May 7th
Time: Approx. 4.30AM Ring Walk (GMT)
Venue: Estadio Akron, Jalisco, Mexico
Promoter: Eddie Hearn/Matchroom Boxing (live on DAZN)
Elsewhere on the card, Julio Cesar Martinez fights Ronal Batista for the WBC flyweight world title; Steve Spark and Gabriel Valenzuela fight for the WBA Inter-Continental super lightweight title; and Oleksandr Gvozdyk takes on light heavyweight Ricards Bolotniks.