Islington star aims to follow in DeGale’s footsteps by winning British title

John Ryder

John Ryder - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Islington star John Ryder intends to emulate sparring partner James DeGale by wresting the British middleweight title from Billy Joe Saunders this weekend.

Unbeaten Ryder headlines Saturday’s blockbuster show at the Copper Box Arena, Hackney Wick, as he challenges Saunders for the crown over 12 rounds.

And the 25-year-old southpaw is hoping to follow in the footsteps of DeGale, who snatched the British super-middleweight belt by demolishing champion Paul Smith in style almost three years ago.

Ryder, who made his name as an amateur with Angel ABC, told the Gazette: “James is on the verge of a world title shot – that’s a level above me, so sparring with him is a good benchmark.

“He certainly wasn’t going easy on me either. I’ve had some world-class sparring, which has made me very sharp indeed and I think that’ll stand me in good stead.

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“I remember he beat Smith in good fashion and I’m going to try and do the same and get that title. I’ve been unlucky not to get title shots before, with people pulling out, but this is my time and I’m ready.

“Billy Joe is a classy fighter, make no mistake about that, but perhaps not quite at world-class level at present. I have noticed a few things which I can exploit to my advantage against him.

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“I am very confident of the outcome and I intend to bring the belts back to Islington on Saturday night. I need to protect my unbeaten ring record, which is so important to me and that’s what I expect to do.”

Ryder won two national novice middleweight titles with the Angel club before turning professional in 2010 and has since recorded 15 straight victories, with nine inside the distance.

Around 450 supporters are expected to cheer the Islington man on at the former Olympic venue, which is staging its first big boxing show under the Queensberry Promotions banner.

Fellow southpaw Saunders is the more experienced of the two fighters, holding a 100 per cent win record from his 18 professional contests – the last three of which have all gone the distance.

By contrast, Ryder has not yet gone beyond eight rounds, but he has no concerns that stamina could be a problem if Saturday’s clash – in which the Commonwealth title is also on the line – lasts the full 12.

“I’ve been doing 12 rounds since I was about 12 years old, so I’ve got stamina in the bank,” added Ryder, who is trained by Colin Lake and Ivor Jones. “A knockout would be nice but I’m confident in my ability to box him for 12 rounds if I have to.

“A lot of people are coming to watch me box. I’ve boxed on a lot of big shows in places like Nottingham, Sheffield and Hull, so Hackney Wick will feel like home.

“It’s nice to be headlining and I think it’s deserved – I’ve worked hard for this. The British title has a lot of heritage about it and I’m really looking forward to winning it. Every time I think about Saturday I get excited.

“It will be the ultimate test for me to show what I am capable of and I need to go about the job coolly and confidently to get the right result.”

Saturday’s show also features five other championship fights, with Dereck Chisora taking on Edmund Gerber for the European heavyweight title.

Frankie Gavin faces David Barnes for the British and Commonwealth welterweight crown, while Paul Butler and Miguel Gonzalez square up for the vacant WBO inter-continental super-flyweight title.

Unbeaten pair Liam Walsh and Joe Murray contest the Commonwealth super-featherweight title, with Mitchell Smith meeting Scott Moises for the Southern Area belt at the same weight.

Also on the undercard, Islington welterweight George Kean makes his professional debut in a four-round contest.

Kean, who learned his trade at Times ABC and won the senior London ABA title in 2012, will kick off his career in the paid ranks against Lincoln journeyman Rick Boulter.

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