Tomorrow from Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Callum Smith returns to defend his WBA super middleweight title against mandatory challenger John Ryder in a main event that will stream live on DAZN.
Our staffers make their picks.
Ryder is a really good domestic-level fighter in the UK who is on a very nice four-fight run that got him this mandatory shot, but he’ll be out of his depth with Smith. Not only does Callum tower over him at 6’3” to Ryder’s 5’9”, but Smith is also simply a better fighter. As far imagining Ryder as a real threat, I think back to his history. Ryder has lost to Nick Blackwell and Jack Arnfield, along with Billy Joe Saunders and Rocky Fielding. He was generally quite competitive in his defeats, and certainly he learned and maybe even improved from them, but he’s not gotten good enough to beat Callum Smith.
I can imagine Ryder lasting longer than many expect here; I could see him last the distance, even. Erik Skoglund and Nieky Holzken did. It’s not unfathomable. But I also think Smith is fighting with a whole new level of confidence since then — confident in his size, his skills, and his power. He’ll box smart, use his advantages, and get a game Ryder out before the distance. Smith TKO-9
Callum Smith is a big, strong super middleweight with all the motivation in the world to look good in this fight as he hopes to land a major payday against Canelo Alvarez in the near future. John Ryder has mentioned that he’s planning to upset the apple cart in regards to those plans, but I just don’t see a way he pulls that off. I don’t think Ryder is so technical that he can just outbox Smith over the distance, and I sure as hell don’t believe he can afford to get into a firefight with him either. That puts Ryder somewhere in between a rock and a hard place, and some things just don’t need to be overthought. This fight is one of those things. Smith rolls. Smith TKO-5
Patrick L. Stumberg
You can’t say Ryder hasn’t earned another shot at the big time; “The Gorilla” has looked, well, like a rampaging ape in the ring since a questionable loss to Rocky Fielding, including a demolition job of hyped prospect BIlal Akkawy last time out. Of all the top super middleweights, though, Smith might be the least beatable, and a lot of that comes down to proportions. “Mundo” is a colossal 6’3” with a 78” reach, sporting half-foot advantages over Ryder in both areas.
Worse, he has the jab and straight right to make the most of them.
Ryder’s point-blank combinations are a sight to behold and pack far more power than his overall KO% would suggest. He has to get through those telephone poles to use them, though, and I don’t think his decent-but-unspectacular head movement is enough to let him do so without taking excessive damage. Expect a lot of struggle with Smith’s reach before a straight right down the pipe seals the deal for “Mundo.” Smith TKO-9
Ryder is on a great run of form in dispatching of Nielsen, Cox, Sirotkin and Akkawy over the past 12 months, but there is a fear that “Gorilla” is a talented fighter who is caught between divisions. He’s a small super-middleweight having campaigned a majority of his career at 160 pounds, with a mountain to climb against one of the biggest mysteries of making weight — Callum Smith.
Smith is a huge super-middleweight with long leavers capable of swarming his opponent from all angles. His check left hook counter has become something of a trademark for “Mundo” with Ryder’s southpaw stance enabling this punch to be utilised if the challenger falls short with his jab, following up with a right hand. Smith is eyeing up a huge 2020 and is unlikely to relinquish his gold in front of his home faithful in Liverpool.
Ryder is a very capable fighter, but Smith will prove too big and too strong. Smith KO-6