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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
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

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

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