Islington fighter focused on winning middleweight title at O2 Arena

John Ryder raises his arms after defeating Jez Wilson earlier this year. Pic: Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO

John Ryder raises his arms after defeating Jez Wilson earlier this year. Pic: Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO - Credit: Rob Newell/TGSPHOTO

Islington’s John Ryder says a late change of opponent will not distract him from his attempt to become WBA inter-continental middleweight champion this weekend.

Ryder had been due to face the vastly experienced Sergey Khomitsky for the vacant belt at the O2 Arena on Saturday, but the Belarussian pulled out at short notice.

Khomitsky’s withdrawal means the Islington fighter, who has won 18 of his 19 professional contests, is now up against Ghana’s Theophilus Tetteh instead.

“Obviously the last-minute change of opponent’s not ideal,” admitted Ryder. “I was training to face Khomitsky for several weeks and suddenly that’s gone out of the window.

“But I don’t think Tetteh’s all that different from what we were getting before, so all’s not lost in terms of preparation. I’ve got loads of rounds in with different opponents and I’ve learned a lot.

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“I’ve got to take the initiative early on – if I let him get into his rhythm he can be a handful. There’s everything still to gain and the same title’s still on the line.

“If you look at the list of fighters who have held this title, it’d be nice to join them. Win this and it puts me in the top 15 with most of the world governing bodies.”

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Ryder made his name as an amateur with Angel ABC before joining the paid ranks in 2010 and has been defeated just once, in his first attempt to win a title just over a year ago.

And the 26-year-old believes that experience, when he lost on points to British and Commonwealth champion Billy Joe Saunders, will be invaluable on Saturday.

“I think the Saunders fight will stand me in good stead,” added Ryder. “This is another big show, I’m the main event, and it’s another chance to put myself up there and get a belt around my waist.

“I lacked experience against Saunders, maybe that’s what let me down on that occasion – but I’m a year older, a year wiser. I’ve got a lot of self-belief and I’m looking forward to getting in the ring.

“It’ll be nice to box at a big venue. I’ve never boxed at the O2 before, but I was there when Anthony Joshua made his debut last year and that was a great occasion – hopefully this will be another one.”

Tetteh, who has spent most of his career at light-middleweight, comes to London with a record of 16 wins (including nine stoppages), six defeats and two draws.

The Matchroom Promotions bill also features Joshua, who meets Denis Bakhtov for the WBC international heavyweight title.

Former Islington BC captain Aarron ‘The Marksman’ Morgan is back in the ring on Friday night when he takes on Daniel Borisov in a light-middleweight contest at the Camden Centre, Kings Cross.

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