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WBA orders Callum Smith vs John Ryder 168-pound title fight

Ryder knocked out Andrey Sirotkin for the mandatory spot last october

Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz Jr. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Matchroom Boxing’s recent acquisition of Billy Joe Saunders looked like the last step before a unification fight with fellow super middleweight titlist Callum Smith, and though the two reportedly have a contract for a spring clash, “Mundo” has things to take care of in the meantime. The WBA has ordered Smith to begin negotiations with mandatory challenger John Ryder; the two have until September 29th, after which a purse bid will be held.

It’s not the Canelo fight Smith (26-0, 19 KO) wanted, but neither is it an easy out. Ryder (28-4, 16 KO) is 4-0 with four knockouts since a controversial decision loss to Rocky Fielding, including a seventh-round finish of Andrey Sirotkin last October to claim mandatory status. He was then scheduled to welcome David Lemieux to the super middleweight division on the Canelo-Jacobs undercard earlier this year, but instead demolished prospect Bilal Akkawy for the interim WBA belt when Lemieux withdrew with a damaged hand.

“Mundo,” who fought 13 times from 2014 through 2016, has been rather inactive of late, competing just four times since a December 2016 knockout of Luke Blackledge. His sole 2019 effort saw him obliterate a well-past-it Hassan N’Dam in three rounds