On Saturday night, the Akron Stadium in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, will host the homecoming of their adopted superstar son and undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs). He will be taking on 34-year-old John ‘The Gorilla’ Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) in a fight scheduled for 12 rounds or less live on DAZN PPV. Although Ryder has a solid fan base in the United Kingdom, where he was born and raised, many in attendance will not know who he is, which bears the question, ‘Who is John Ryder?’
John Ryder is from Islington, London, England, and when you look at his amateur career, he didn’t have an extensive one, which saw the Englishmen compete 35 times, with Ryder coming out victorious in 30 of those fights. At 22, Ryder turned pro on September 10, 2010, with his first victory being a first-round TKO victory over Ben Deghani (1-6, 1 KO). Three years later, he faced a fighter that would later on become the WBO middleweight champion, Billy Joe Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs). Although Ryder lost to Saunders by a close but unanimous decision, he would go on to win his next five fights over 18 months before losing by TKO to Nick Blackwell (19-4-1, 8 KOs).
In 2017, Ryder faced one of his first notable names (at least for those in the U.S.), which was Rocky Fielding (30-3, 18 KOs), for the vacant BBBofC British super middleweight title. Ryder came up short and lost by a narrow-split decision. After that fight, Ryder would win four in a row and then lose to Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) by a 12-round unanimous decision. Ryder wouldn’t get mainstream notoriety until he beat Daniel Jacobs (37-4, 30 KOs) and then Zach Parker (22-1, 16 KOs), which earned him the interim WBO super middleweight title. Once he became the mandatory for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, his promoter Eddie Hearn delivered Ryder the opportunity to fight for the undisputed crown, which will take place thousands of miles from his home in the U.K.
Ryder has had somewhat of a rollercoaster career. On Saturday night, he has the opportunity to earn his most significant victory to date and the biggest payday of his career. Saturday night will show the world if the thought of retirement has clouded Ryder’s focus on winning the big one or if he still has the desire to become great. So for those asking, ‘Who is John Ryder?’ He is a fighter who has fought his way up the rankings, and his determination has gotten him a shot at boxing’s biggest star.