Some might think John Ryder has signed up for a nightmare on May 6 when he faces Canelo in Mexico, but for the English underdog the chance to fight the man seen as the best in the world by many is a dream come true.
Ryder has manifested the opportunity to face boxing’s best 168lbs fighter for more than a year, willing this fight into existence. Ryder said in a number of interviews that he wanted to fight Canelo, then John beat Danny Jacobs to move into the picture, and then he beat Zach Parker to earn his mandatory shot.
All the while, he would put pen to paper to say he wanted to face Canelo, put positive thoughts into the universe to make it happen.
But even the venue was not far off. There had been talk that it could be in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo weekend, or that it could be at the Emirates Stadium in London, home of Ryder’s favourite football team, Arsenal, but Ryder would always mention Mexico as a possibility, too.
“I said it to George Groves the other week, he said, ‘Where would you do it?’ And I said, ‘The Azteca, 100,000.’ I got the venue wrong but the country is the same. But if you take on these champions you’ve got to go to their backyard. It’s not always like that now, big fights go to Vegas and the big states in the US, so the hometown fights are often lost at times.”
Ryder is a more than willing participant in the blue corner. It takes any pressure off and the privilege of meeting the biggest star in world boxing outweighs any negative for the challenger.
“You’re not just doing this for one world title, we’re doing it for all of the marbles and you can’t expect to have it in your backyard or on neutral ground, you expect to go to someone’s backyard and I would have actually gone to his back garden, but we are in the stadium,” Ryder added.
“I feel that mentally and physically I’m probably in the best place in my career having taken every lesson I’ve been dealt, re-evaluated things, gone over things and really picked the bones out of things, I feel like I’m really in the best shape mentally now, where physically I was always in shape but the mental side wasn’t up to it.”
Ryder has been training with coach Tony Sims, another student of the sport, who has labelled combinations with the names of the fighter who threw them best.
Does Canelo have a signature combination that Tony is mindful of?
“There is one on the wall, of the 60-odd combinations,” Ryder admitted. “But there’s a Danny Jacobs one on there as well. So we will work on that, we will defend against it and we will try and throw it ourselves, but Tony only puts good fighters on the wall so hopefully if I win this fight on May 6, I’ll get a combination on the wall.”