Islington fighter says Saunders defeat has made him stronger ahead of British title eliminator

John Ryder in action against Luke Robinson (left)

John Ryder in action against Luke Robinson (left) - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

John Ryder is vowing to prove he has come back stronger from his defeat by Billy Joe Saunders when he faces Jez Wilson this weekend.

The Islington middleweight challenged Saunders for the British and Commonwealth titles in September and pushed the champion all the way, narrowly missing out on victory in his first 12-round bout.

However, Ryder is not distracted by the possibility of a rematch with Saunders just yet – for the time being, he is determined to focus on beating Wilson in Saturday’s eliminator at York Hall for another British title shot.

“I don’t know if the rematch will happen immediately with Billy Joe, but hopefully down the line it could happen for something bigger than a British title,” said Ryder.

“I am focused fully on Jez Wilson and then we will go from there.”

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The talented former Angel ABC amateur – who gained a valuable six rounds in Liverpool a fortnight ago, beating George Kandelaki – admits that he had doubts about going the championship distance for the first time [against Saunders].

“If you lose and you learn, it isn’t such a bad thing and I will come back a better fighter,” said Ryder. “I didn’t get hurt and I learnt a lot.

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“There are good things to come from me and I will be better for having had that fight, and I will be better over the distance now.

“I had been scheduled to box 10 rounds twice, but stopped them in eight, so now I have done the championship distance it will hold me in good stead in the future.”

Saturday’s opponent, Wilson, travels to the capital from Sheffield ready for his first fight in over a year and Ryder isn’t underestimating the 34-year-old.

“I don’t know a lot about Jez Wilson – there isn’t much of him on YouTube but I have seen his record and who he has boxed,” added Ryder. “It is a good record and it speaks for itself.

“He has had 13 fights, 11 wins, one loss and one draw. He has been stopped once but you can’t read too much into that – the guy was a bit of a banger and I think he might have just got caught early on.”

Ryder’s clash with Wilson comes in between the semi-finals and final of the 33rd edition of the Prizefighter series, as eight welterweights do battle for the trophy and £32,000 winner’s cheque.

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