Home Sports John Ryder beats Zach Parker to win interim WBO title

John Ryder beats Zach Parker to win interim WBO title

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John Ryder beat Zach Parker to win the interim WBO super-middleweight title – and move closer to a bout with Mexican legend Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

After a thrilling opening four rounds in London, Parker pulled out of the fight at the start of the fifth round, citing an injury to his right hand.

It was Parker’s first loss in 23 bouts.

Ryder could now meet Alvarez in May or be upgraded to full world champion if the four-weight world champion decides to not fight at this weight next time.

The contest, held at the O2 Arena, was tipped to be one of the best domestic showdowns of the year and it was living up to its billing before the anti-climatic ending as Parker walked to Ryder at the start of the fifth, saying he could not continue.

Speaking immediately after the fight, Parker said his hand was “hanging off” and confirmed he broke it at the beginning of the fourth round.

He added: “I’m absolutely gutted, I will come back stronger. I was warming into it but with the injury every time I jabbed it was hurting and clicking.”

On the prospect of facing Alvarez next, Ryder said: “It would be a dream to fight Canelo and it would be the icing on my career.

“I started off the year with a great win and it was important to win this to keep the momentum for 2023.

“Zach started well but I thought the tide was starting to turn. It’s a bad injury for him and one of those things that can happen in boxing.”

The bout began at a frantic pace, with Parker the more mobile earlier on, but also sustaining some minor bruising under his right eye in the first.

The Derbyshire man had some success working to the Ryder body in the second, although the Londoner was unhappy with what he thought was a low blow before he landed some jabs at the end of the third – which Parker smiled at.

Ryder followed that by landing a beautiful left hook in the fourth, the best punch of the contest, and produced an attack straight after with the bell stopping Parker from getting in further trouble.

But that was to be the last of the action, with one judge having the scores level and the other two having Parker three rounds to one ahead when he had to withdraw.

Could a life-changing fight against legend Alvarez be next?

Alvarez, 32, has held world titles at light-middleweight, middleweight, super-middleweight and light-heavyweight and currently holds the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO belts at super-middleweight.

However, he lost in May at light-heavyweight to Russia’s Dmitry Bivol – only the second loss of his 62-fight career and his first since being beaten by Floyd Mayweather in 2013 – before returning to action with a win in his trilogy encounter with Gennady Golovkin in September.

Last week Alvarez, who needed wrist surgery after that win over Golovkin, said: “Right now my idea is to return in May. I’m going to start punching in January to see how I feel and then after that we’ll see.

“The idea is to come back in May with a not-so-tough fight to see how I feel and in September to seek a rematch with Bivol, which is the only thing I want right now in my career.”

Even though Canelo may see 34-year-old Ryder as a tune-up before his main target of Bivol, Ryder will not mind about that as he now chases a life-changing fight.

Parker was fighting for the first time in just over a year after a scheduled contest with American two-weight world champion Demetrius Andrade twice fell apart.

In May, the pair had been due to meet in front of 30,000 people at Derby County’s Pride Park stadium before Andrade pulled out with a shoulder injury.

For Ryder, it was his second appearance of 2022 after a stunning split-decision win over American two-time world champion Daniel Jacobs in February.

Ryder had held the interim WBA belt earlier in his career but then lost a unanimous points decision when fighting for the full title in a tough away assignment against Liverpool’s Callum Smith in 2019.

Undercard round-up – Sheeraz, Noakes and McCann win Commonwealth titles

Londoner Hamzah Sheeraz produced a brutal performance as he only needed two rounds to stop Coventry’s River Wilson-Bent to pick up the vacant Commonwealth middleweight belt.

Wilson-Bent could not cope with Sheeraz’s sheer power with overhand rights and hooks causing a lot of damage, with Wilson-Bent cut under his left eye early on. In the second Sheeraz continued the assault, knocking his opponent down before it was stopped for his 17th win in 17 fights, 13 of them inside the distance.

England’s Sam Noakes continued his perfect professional record with his 10th victory, all inside the distance, with a fourth-round stoppage of Scotland’s Calvin McCord.

With the vacant Commonwealth lightweight belt on the line, Noakes took complete control in the third and continued the barrage in the fourth with some brutal shots to the body. McCord was knocked down four times in that round before referee Victor Loughlin stopped it.

Dennis McCann, now with a 14-0 record, was another to impress as he gained a dominant win to beat Scotland’s Joe Ham and claim the vacant Commonwealth super-bantamweight title.

McCann’s variety of punches, speed and blistering uppercuts gave him the edge from the start with Ham suffering damage to his nose in the third and having to survive sustained attacks in the next two rounds before it was stopped in the seventh.

Irish super-lightweight Pierce O’Leary improved his unbeaten record to 11 professional wins with a wide points win over brave and resilient Emmanuel Mungandjela, who was floored in both the first and fifth rounds.

But O’Leary comfortably got the verdict on the judges’ scorecards, 99-90, 99-89 and 96-92.

English cruiserweight Tommy Fletcher produced a stunning first-round knockout of Jiri Krejci and super-lightweight Sonny Liston Ali won all six rounds in his contest against Georgi Velichkov.


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