Ryder ready to rain on Mexican parade

John Ryder believes that his experience of fighting on the undercards of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on the occasion of Cinco de Mayo weekend has ensured he is fully prepared for what he will encounter in Guadalajara.

The 34-year-old is Alvarez’s opponent in his home city and in his first fight in his home country for 12 years.

He is not only a significant underdog, he is challenging the undisputed super middleweight champion at a time when Alvarez remains the world’s highest profile fighter and, in reality, is considered the show’s only star.

The national pride invested in Alvarez and the razzmatazz that continues to surround him has the potential to test even the most experienced fighters’ composure, but while Ryder acknowledges Saturday’s fight, through being in Alvarez’s home city, might make that even more challenging than for any of his previous opponents, he has been able to visualise what will prove his biggest test.

“I’d been lucky enough to box on Cinco de Mayo weekend on the undercard of Alvarez-Danny Jacobs in 2019,” he said. “I got to sit there and really soak up the atmosphere – and on the undercard of his fight with Billy Joe Saunders in 2021 – so I’ve seen what happens and to an extent know what to expect from the Mexican fans. 

“But this is Guadalajara, his hometown – the first time he’s boxed at home in 12 years – so it’s bound to be another special atmosphere. Like I’ve seen before, but multiplied. I’ve seen it among the fans from the seats; being in that ring at the Akron Stadium on Saturday, just me and him, and seeing all of the fans outside of it is bound to be pretty crazy, but I’m looking forward to it.

“I went to the stadium for the press conference, so I’ve seen my way around, and I know my route to the stadium. Every night I sit there, go through it in my head, and play it over. The ring walk; the changing room; behind the scenes. I’ve been there 100 times now already.”

They fight at 168lbs a year after Alvarez lost to Dmitrii Bivol at light heavyweight, having turned professional aged 15 at 140lbs. Ryder, by comparison, has remained at 168lbs since 2017 having never fought beneath middleweight, and he therefore believes he is the more “natural” fit at Saturday’s weight.

“I started my career at middleweight before moving up to super middleweight,” he said. “He started at welterweight and had a fantastic career that’s even taken him to light heavyweight, but I’m the more natural at 168lbs.

“The pressure’s all on him. It’s his first time back home in 12 years, and after the worst year of his career – last year was the best of mine – getting in there on fight night the pressure will be on him again.

“The support I’ve had has been fantastic. Me and Joe Cordina were sharing an Airbnb for three weeks in the build-up to his [successful] fight with Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov [last month]. We were around each other a lot and really feeding off each other and spurring each other on, and it was nice because we had the common goal of big fights. I’m going to put on a show.”