Islington star Ryder determined to seize British title chance

John Ryder with the WBO inter-continental belt. Pic: Chris Royle/TGSPHOTO

John Ryder with the WBO inter-continental belt. Pic: Chris Royle/TGSPHOTO - Credit: Chris Royle/TGSPHOTO

Islington’s John Ryder says it “would mean the world” if he can overcome Nick Blackwell to become British middleweight champion this weekend.

The 26-year-old – whose only professional defeat came in his previous British title fight, against Billy Joe Saunders in 2013 – can finally get his hands on the vacant belt by beating Blackwell at the O2 Arena on Saturday.

And Ryder, who made his name as an amateur at Angel ABC, believes victory on the Matchroom Promotions show could ultimately lead to opportunities to prove himself at world level.

“I have a very high ranking with the WBO, so I can’t afford any slip-ups,” said Ryder. “This is potentially a world title fight for me.

“There is a British title on the line but, if I don’t beat Nick Blackwell, I won’t be going anywhere forwards. It is a must-win, so I need to knuckle down and make sure I get that win.

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“Whatever way it comes, I see a Ryder win. It would mean the world to me to win the British title – and there are people who have known me for years who want me to win that title. I know it would mean a lot to them too.”

Like his opponent, Blackwell has an unsuccessful attempt to wrest the British title from Saunders on his record, as well as an earlier defeat by Martin Murray for both the British and Commonwealth belts.

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Since his loss to Saunders, the Wiltshire fighter has won four times and drawn once, but was also edged out on a unanimous points decision by Ukraine’s Max Bursak for the WBA continental title.

“Blackwell took the Murray fight very early on in his career and he was unlucky with the Bursak fight from what I can see – he was never going to get the rub of the green in Ukraine,” added Ryder.

“And Billy Joe is a star boxer. But those are learning curves – he will know where he has gone wrong in the past and he will be trying to put that right.”

Ryder is seeking to complete a hat-trick of victories at the Greenwich venue on Saturday – he stopped Theophilus Tetteh to win the WBO inter-continental title there in October and defended the belt against Billi Godoy three months later.

The north London southpaw was largely frustrated by Godoy until the 10th round of a gruelling contest, when he pulled out a stunning left hook to take his record to 20 wins from 21 fights.

But Ryder has been sharpening his skills in the build-up for Saturday’s test by sparring with IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook, whose defence against Frankie Gavin tops the bill.

“I’d sparred Kell two years ago and he was different this time,” Ryder recalled. “You can see the champ’s mentality taking over.

“He was different gravy – much more spite in his punches. Kell wanted to hurt me and take my head off. He didn’t take my head off or knock me out – but he tried and fair play to him!

“There are a lot of fighters that don’t try to take your head off and take their foot of the gas – he doesn’t and he is high intensity. Kell is a fantastic puncher and so natural.”

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