John Ryder’s task on Saturday night looks close to mission impossible.
The “Gorilla” fights for all the marbles in the super-middleweight division against the face of the 168 lbers and Guadalajara hometown hero, Canelo Alvarez, as a 9/1 (+900) underdog.
But boxing has a habit of throwing up unexpected results. I’m offering up the arguments for Ryder to write himself into the annals of boxing’s underdog stories.
1. Pressure, pressure, pressure
You know what you’re going to get with John Ryder: Pressure in the pocket.
The 34-year-old has found his sweet spot in the super-middleweight division following disappointments at middleweight, and looks in peak condition to once again unload for 36 minutes on the chest of the Mexican.
From the southpaw stance, Ryder could quite possibly ask questions of Canelo that haven’t had to be answered too often throughout his 62-fight career. Ryder has to show little concern for timing the perfect counters and just outwork Canelo for as many stanzas of the fight as possible.
If he hits fresh air, gloves, or arms, so be it. But coming out the traps at 100mph is the only option for the away fighter.
Two years ago, Canelo was preparing for the second defence of his super-middleweight titles against Billy Joe Saunders.
In typical Saunders fashion, the British fighter said he would pull out of the fight unless he got his way about the size of the ring in which they were to box. Saunders wanted a 24-foot ring, Canelo wanted a 18-foot ring.
With the fight potentially at risk of falling through, John Ryder flew out to Dallas ready to step in as a last-minute opponent and grab the opportunity of a lifetime.
It was also rumoured that Ryder would have fought Canelo instead of Dmitry Bivol if their May 2022 fight fell through due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In summary, Ryder has been targeting Canelo long before the 32-year-old probably even knew his name.
3. Canelo’s wear and tear
62 fights across five weight classes over 18 years — Canelo Alvarez’s body has been through it.
Add to that the multiple surgeries he has been through (most recently to his wrist last year) and you’ve got a fighter that could start showing signs of wear and tear as he fights through his 30s.
If any of this wear and tear surfaces on fight night then Ryder has to be there to take full advantage.
4. Last chance hurrah
A desperate man is a dangerous man.
Ryder is approaching the end of his career and has made it clear that he could well retire if Saturday night doesn’t go his way.
“Yeah potentially [I could retire], it all depends on the manner that you lose,” John Ryder told Mirror Fighting.
“If you go in there and have a close fight, then there will be big nights out there for you. Is it worth your time, is it worth your body, and is it worth the sacrifices?” he added.
If Ryder is willing to lay it all on the line, then his percentage creeps up slightly.
5. Recent taste of defeat
Before Canelo’s loss to Dmitry Bivol he had gone 16 fights and eight years in the winning corner.
Defeat wasn’t considered an option to him — and arguably to some of the judges scoring his fights — but now with a recent taste of an L in his mouth, it’s less inconceivable that he suffers another in the near future.
Ryder is a very different fighter to Bivol, in a different weight class, so we’re not expecting any Russian blueprint to be followed, but the more the Briton can do to sow negative seeds in the head of Canelo, the better.