John Ryder was supposed to be in the Canelo-Jacobs co-feature against former middleweight titleholder David Lemieux, but that fight fell through, and he was matched against Bilal Akkawy much deeper on the undercard instead.
But Ryder took full advantage of the chance, anyway, dropping Akkawy twice and stopping him in the third round to win the vacant interim WBA super middleweight title and possibly earn a shot at Callum Smith.
The fight started very slow, with Ryder and Akkawy not doing much of anything at all in the opening round, or much more than that in the second round. But Ryder (28-4, 16 KO) found a home for his right hook in round three, dropping Akkawy (20-1-1, 16 KO) with the punch about a minute into the round.
Akkawy got up but was hurt, and Ryder pounced on him. Cornering Akkawy, he threw in combination until another hook hurt him badly, then dropped him with another hook and a straight left hand.
Akkawy, to his credit, got up yet again, and once more, Ryder went straight after him, throwing shots until referee Jay Nady stepped in — for his troubles, the third man in the ring caught a pretty hard left hand to the gut from Akkawy, reacting as one might to that before calling the fight off.
It’s a big, big win for the 30-year-old Ryder, who solidifies his current standing in the 168-pound division. And it’s a big setback for Akkawy, who was taking a step up and frankly got exposed.