John Ryder has potentially caught Canelo Alvarez on the decline.
The Mexican superstar had an up-and-down 2022. The 32-year-old was widely viewed as the pound-for-pound fighter before his one-sided loss to Dmitry Bivol for the WBA light heavyweight title last May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Alvarez, however, returned in September and defeated arch-rival Gennadiy Golovkin in their trilogy September 18, also at the T-Mobile. But he didn’t escape without damage.
Alvarez underwent surgery to repair pre-existing damage to his left wrist nearly two months after the win. Now he is set to defend his undisputed super middleweight titles on DAZN-Pay-Per-View against Ryder before 50,000 fans at Akron Stadium in Zapopan, Mexico, in what has been derided by much of the press as a tuneup fight. The criticism comes despite the fact Alvarez has no choice, as it is a mandatory fight.
The 34-year-old John Ryder earned his spot as the WBO’s mandatory challenger for one of Alvarez’s four titles when Zach Parker (22-1, 16 KOs) quit in the fourth round after sustaining a hand injury last November 26 at O2 Arena in London, handing ‘The Gorilla’ the interim WBO 168-pound title.
Nine months prior, Ryder picked up a split decision win over former 160-pound beltholder Daniel Jacobs at Alexandra Palace in Muswell Hill, a suburb of London.
Ryder points out that he is riding a massive wave of momentum, while Alvarez didn’t perform well in either of his two fights last year.
“I just think we’re both getting older,” Ryder said in an interview with Matchroom Boxing. “It’s no secret. Saul Alvarez is coming off his worst year as a pro, having lost to Bivol and then not the vintage performance against Golovkin in the third fight that I think everyone was expecting.
“Whereas I feel like last year I had my best year, defeating Danny Jacobs and then getting myself in line for the WBO world title and beating Zach Parker. So, I mean, there’s always that to look at. I know he had an injury; I know he’s coming back from it, so all to be seen if it was down to the injury. But I’m the man in the opposite corner to test it out.”
Although Alvarez may have peaked, John Ryder isn’t overlooking him as he prepares to embark into treacherous waters. The bout will mark the first time that Alvarez has fought in his native homeland since November 26, 2011, when he knocked out Kermit Cintron in the third defense of the WBC junior middleweight world title.
“Listen, he’s still very dangerous,” John Ryder said. “He’s still an excellent tactician. He gets things spot on. And listen, he had a great year in the year when he become undisputed [in 2021]. What did he fight, three times that year? And listen, he really changed the game. He’s had so much success that you can only respect him.
“There’s no bad blood here from me. I respect him as a fighter. It’s not gonna be hard for me to study his fights because I’ve watched most of them already, so it’s just YouTube again, more Canelo fights, and just pay more attention now to what he does good and what mistakes he makes.”