Callum Smith believes John Ryder’s fighting instincts risk leaving him in harm’s way when he challenges Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in Guadalajara.
Ryder is fighting the undisputed super middleweight champion, 32, on Cinco de Mayo weekend on the occasion of the Mexican’s first fight in his home city for 12 years.
The 33-year-old Smith narrowly defeated Ryder in 2019 before losing to Alvarez for the first and only time. Where he struggled with Ryder’s dimensions and ability to maintain a high work-rate from close range, however, in Alvarez he is wary that Ryder is meeting an opponent who will relish those strengths.
“Stylistically, John likes to get in the pocket – he likes to get inside, and inside’s probably a dangerous place for him against a fighter like Canelo,” Smith told ProBox TV. “Has he got it in his locker to do a [Dmitrii] Bivol – box and move and use his legs – no, he’s not that style of fighter.
“[Alvarez has] got a very good boxing IQ; a very good boxing brain. You can see when he’s in there he’s always thinking; he’s always trying to set you up, and at times you feel like he’s wanting you to throw because he’s gonna defend and counter.
“What surprised me in there was, seeing the videos where he’s slipping and rolling like [against] Danny Jacobs, and you think, ‘If that was me in there I’d catch him’. And he’s very, very hard to hit clean – even when you do catch him. He seems to ride them and take the power out of them. With little single shots – jabs and stuff – he weren’t the hardest to hit, but any time I tried to hit him [with power] he seemed to ride them or get out the way of them. He’s, defensively, very, very good.”
Alvarez’s status as the world’s highest-profile and most marketable fighter has contributed to suggestions that Ryder, 34, cannot rely on a fair decision from the three ringside judges at the Akron Stadium.
Earlier this week Forbes reported that he is also the world’s highest-earning fighter and fifth highest-earning athlete, again demonstrating the 32-year-old’s value within the boxing community, ahead of fighting an opponent often overlooked beyond the UK.
“If it was me going over there, when the fight finishes you always assume you’re going to get a fair crack of the whip,” Smith said. “You can’t go in there thinking you’re not going to – you always stick to your game plan, and if you win the fight you gotta expect to get the decision.