Zach Parker and John Ryder are set to meet in a potential British classic at the O2 arena on Saturday night. The vacant WBO interim super-middleweight title is on the line, with the winner likely going on to fight for the full belt next time out.
For both fighters, Saturday night means everything for different reasons. Zach Parker is desperate to fight for a world title having been messed about by former WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade, and John Ryder is seeking redemption after being robbed of glory against Callum Smith.
Parker and Ryder ahead of their huge clash
The unbeaten Parker secured a dream homecoming style fight at his beloved Derby County’s Pride Park stadium against Andrade, who later pulled out claiming a shoulder injury. In what would have been an immensely frustrating time for Parker, he hasn’t stepped foot in a ring for over a year now due to the Andrade situation and will be hoping to avoid any ring rust.
The Derbyshire-based fighter will be looking to add to his nasty streak of 5 consecutive stoppage victories. The 22-0 super-middleweight has only managed to fight for 7 rounds in his last three fights and dismantled Marcus Morrison last time out in what was an extremely comfortable victory and a good stoppage.
Parker on his way to stopping Marcus Morrison
Having agreed to fight Andrade before the American champ pulled out, beating Ryder will likely lead to a career defining night against P4P great Canelo Alvarez. With Alvarez bouncing up and down the weights there is also the chance he could be stripped of his super-middleweight titles leaving the WBO vacant.
Missing out on the Andrade fight may not be the worst thing for Parker, however, as Ryder is a step up in class compared to the majority of opponents, he has faced in his short career so far. The all-British dust-up will be a brilliant test and a potential eye-opener as to what world-level opposition is like.
For John Ryder redemption would be an understatement. A career-best performance against fellow Brit and world champion at the time Callum Smith ended in one of the most controversial decisions these shores has seen. The vast majority in attendance and the public watching at home felt Ryder had won fairly comfortably, with the judges seeing the complete opposite.
Ryder has had to force his way to the top after his early career took some time to get going with a couple of demoralizing losses. Since that Ryder hasn’t really looked back, with the only black spot being the loss to Callum Smith and even that was a fight where he should have got the decision. Since the loss to Smith, Ryder has picked up three consecutive victories, with his latest outing being a tight split decision win over former world champion Daniel Jacobs.
Ryder celebrating his latest win over Jacobs
Ryder is no stranger to these huge all British matchups, having shared the ring with Billy Joe Saunders, Rocky Fielding and Nick Blackwell. Father time, however, waits for nobody and 34-year-old Ryder will be fully aware he may not get another opportunity like the one in front of him.
A win for John Ryder and taking Zach Parker's 0 would be the biggest win of his career and would give him the chance to right the wrongs from the Callum Smith fight and crown himself as Britain’s latest world champion. taking everything into account, it is essentially a must win for Ryder.
Saturday night promises to be a fantastic show with some brilliant young talent on show, however, the two men topping the bill know they will need a career best performance to ensure a chance at glory.