Islington star aims to launch another bid for British title

Billy Joe Saunders (left) vs John Ryder

Billy Joe Saunders (left) vs John Ryder - Credit: Kevin Lines/TGSPHOTO

Islington middleweight John Ryder believes his narrow defeat by Billy Joe Saunders will stand him in good stead when he makes his comeback in March.

Ryder surrendered his unbeaten record after losing a tight, but unanimous points decision in his attempt to wrest the British and Commonwealth belts from Saunders at the Copper Box Arena four months ago.

The former Angel ABC star has been out of the ring since then due to a hand injury, but he is set to return as part of a Matchroom Promotions bill on March 29.

That contest, against an opponent yet to be named, is likely to be a final eliminator for another shot at the British title – and Ryder feels he is now better equipped to make the most of a second opportunity.

“Everyone wants to have a career like Floyd Mayweather – 45 and 0 and retire undefeated – but the way I look at it is that I didn’t get beaten up or anything,” the 25-year-old southpaw told the Gazette.

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“Maybe my lack of experience over the championship rounds cost me. On a different day it could have been a different result and I took a lot of positives from it.

“I learned a hell of a lot and that’ll be better for me in the long run. I’ve got a point to prove and, when the opportunity comes up again, I’m going to take it. I still want that title and then I want to keep it.”

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Ryder, who had recorded 15 straight wins as a professional prior to the Saunders loss, was due to return to the ring just before Christmas, but had to pull out through injury.

Since then, the Islington man has split with his long-term trainer Colin Lake and is now training at the Hainault gym run by Tony Sims, who was already his manager.

“I was going to continue working with Colin for the December fight, but we had a bit of a falling out and there wasn’t really any way back,” said Ryder, who collected two senior novices titles during his amateur days.

“We’d been working together for coming up to 10 years and it’s not easy to make that kind of decision, but now it’s done. Hopefully it’ll work out and I hope we’re still friends.

“I didn’t have to think too much about working with Tony. It’s been easy to adapt because I’ve known him for a couple of years and also we’re in familiar surroundings.

“I wanted to box again in December and I’d been getting fit in the gym, then I landed a punch wrong and my left hand swelled up. It came at just the wrong time.”

Ryder had been pencilled in to box on the undercard of Ricky Burns’ WBO world lightweight title defence in Glasgow on March 1, but will now appear later in the month instead.

Islington light-welterweight Charlie Rice is back in action on Thursday night when he tops the bill at Mickey Helliet’s Burns Night black tie dinner show at the Millennium Hotel, Mayfair.

The 21-year-old takes on Barnsley’s Lee Gibbons at the head of a card that is due to get under way at 9.15pm. Call 020 7352 1593 for ticket information.

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