John Ryder, Read This! 5 Examples of UK Boxers Fighting in Mexico



John Ryder, Read This! 5 Examples of UK Boxers Fighting in Mexico

John Ryder of London, England, will on Saturday (May 6) enter a boxing ring outside of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, as a significant underdog.

Opposing him will be undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (58-2-2, 39KOs). Canelo will enjoy the support of 50,000 compatriots as Estadio Akron has sold out in anticipation of the Mexican great's homecoming appearance. It will be the first time Canelo has boxed on home soil in over 11 years.

For 34-year-old Ryder (32-5, 18KOs), the deck is stacked against him. The mandatory challenger for Canelo's WBO strap, Ryder is seen by many as a lamb to the slaughter. Most pre-fight predictions focus on how Canelo will defeat his southpaw opponent, not if he will.

To make matters worse for the United Kingdom boxer, the history books show that fighters from this side of the pond don't fare too well when taking on Mexican natives on their turf.

5 Examples Of UK Standouts Like John Ryder Battling in Mexico

It is fairly rare for UK boxers to box in Mexico.

Usually, UK fighters have the home advantage when facing off against Mexican foes. Occasionally the bouts take place on the semi-neutral ground of the United States.

Ahead of Saturday's event in Canelo's home state, here is a look back at five previous times UK boxers have attempted to win in Mexico.

Vicente Saldivar vs. Howard Winstone, October 14, 1967, Estadio Azteca, Mexico City

Welshman Winstone had already tasted defeat twice to the man known as “El Zurdo de Oro” – the golden southpaw. Those bouts had taken place in London and Cardiff in 1965 and June 1967 respectively. Undisputed featherweight champion Saldivar won both on points. The contest in Mexico City rounded off what had been a brutal and thrilling trilogy between the combatants.

Hailing from the town of Merthyr Tydfil, and regarded as one of Wales' finest boxers of all time, Winstone had only been defeated twice in 55 outings before he first challenged Saldivar.

Travelling to Mexico City for a third attempt to wrestle the titles from Saldivar also proved to be beyond Winstone's capabilities. On this occasion the fight, in front of 90,000 fans at Estadio Azteca, was stopped after Winstone's corner threw in the towel in the 12th round.

Winstone had been down in the 7th and 12th rounds as Salvidar's power proved too much for the Welsh boxer who tried to move and use his superb left jab to engineer an opening.

Salvidar was the man in this era at featherweight. Try as he might, Winstone just couldn't get the better of his rival, regardless of where the fights took place. John Ryder wants to do better.

Jose Napoles v John H Stracey, 12-6-75, Monumental Plaza de Toros Mexico, Mexico City (Alert To John Ryder!)

This is the only example of an away victory on this list. Sublimely skilled Napoles – born in Cuba but a Mexican citizen from 1969 – held the WBC welterweight title and an intimidating record of 81-6 heading into this contest.

Londoner Stracey (click Boxrec here) was up against it despite Napoles being aged 35 when the fight took place. A bullring was the venue. 40,000 fans packed the stands to watch the title fight.

Napoles, known as “Mantequilla” – butter – due to his smooth movement in the ring got off to a fast start, putting the Englishman on the canvas in the first round.

Stracey–John Ryder can check out his Wikipedia here–got up and having sparred Napoles previously, knew his jab was the key to him being successful in the fight. He put his left hand to work and Napoles was down in round number three.

From there the visiting fighter was in control against the aging champion. The fight ended in the sixth round, Stracey was unleashing unanswered punches on a beaten up Napoles.

Record of boxer John Stracey

OK, no, Canelo isn't faded like Napoles was. Nevertheless, UK hitters DO get Ws in Mexico, John Ryder

The referee stepped in to end the punishment. It would be Napoles' final fight.

It provided a rare away win for a UK professional in Mexico. Stracey's win is still regarded as one of the best on foreign shores by a British boxer.

Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Andy Holligan, December 18, 1993, Estadio Cuauhtemoc, Puebla

This bout took place on a mammoth Don King card which featured three world title fights. At this point in time Chavez was 88-0-1 and was defending his 140-pound world title.

Holligan, from Liverpool, England, entered with a 21-0 record but that was about to be seriously tested despite the fact that Chavez was 31 and seemingly slightly past his best.

Regardless, Chavez sent 60,000 of his countrymen home happy that night by dominating the fight for the five rounds that it lasted.

In a Boxing News piece remembering the fight Steve Bunce wrote: “It was a lost and painful cause [for Holligan] and at the end of round five, Arthur Mercante, the iconic referee, went to Holligan's corner. Mercante told Colin Moorcroft, ‘I think this fight should end.' Moorcroft and Frank Warren pulled Holligan out. It was the perfect mercy stoppage. Chavez moved to 89 wins that night and no defeats.”

He may have been letting his standards slip just a bit by 1993, but on this night, Chavez was too good for Andy Holligan. (EDITOR MW NOTE: Quick look at that fight, Holligan showed heart of a lion and chin of Teflon in that one! End of Canelo v John Ryder could look like ending of Chavez v Holligan, I think.)

Erik Morales vs. Willie Limond, Sept. 11, 2010, Monumental Plaza de Toros, Mexico City

After retiring from boxing in 2007, Erik “El Terrible” Morales launched a comeback in 2010 with the goal being a run at a world title in the light welterweight division.

Scotland's Willie Limond was the opponent selected for the second fight of Erik's comeback. A talented and underrated boxer during his campaign, Limond went to Mexico with hopes of toppling the then three-weight world champion. Limond had every right to be confident as the only blemishes on his record up to that point were defeats to Alex Arthur and Amir Khan.

According to Boxing Scene, Limond was in a positive and respectful frame of mind at the pre-fight press conference. “The key to winning is speed,” the Glasgow born boxer said.

“I can box on the front foot or the back foot and I'm going to give it my all and get the result. Erik has had a lot of hard fights. The man's a warrior and this is the way he fights. But I'm fresher, and I'm going to pull it off. Anyone is beatable on the night. It's an honour for me to be here and share a ring with this man. Just look what he's done for boxing, and all the titles he's won.”

Sadly, for Limond, Morales still had enough left in his tank to get the win. Limond gave a good account of himself before being stopped in the sixth round by the Mexican great. Most pundits seem to think John Ryder will perform versus Canelo along the same lines.

Morales took over proceedings in that session, sending the Scot to the canvas three times with body shots. After the third knockdown referee Jay Nady had seen enough and pulled the plug.

Morales' comeback did see him lift a title in his fourth weight division when he defeated Pablo Cesar Cano to capture the vacant WBC 140-pound title 12-months after he had defeated Limond.

Willie Limond boxed on, fighting a further 11 times over the next 12 years. He never again shared the ring with an opponent of Morales' stature.

Saul Alvarez vs. Ryan Rhodes, June 18, 2011, Arena VFG, Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Guadalajara

The final fight on this list brings us back to when Alvarez last boxed in his home state of Jalisco. It would be the second of four fights Canelo would contest in 2011, and the first defence of the WBC light middleweight title he had won by defeating Matthew Hatton in Anaheim, California, three months earlier.

For Ryan Rhodes (45-4 entering), facing Canelo offered a late career opportunity to win a world title. Rhodes was the European champion at the weight but becoming world champion had eluded the 34-year-old–same as Ryder!– boxer from Sheffield, England.

Alvarez was undefeated as he entered the Arena VFG ring. He was also just 20-years-old and about to become one of the most well-known boxers on the planet.

Writing for a young reporter named Michael Woods gave every round to Canelo prior to the contest being stopped in the final round.

“Canelo didn't lose a round on my card,” Woods wrote.

“Alvarez stayed calm, cool and on message as he whacked Rhodes with combos for 11 plus rounds,” said Woods, editor of that site from 2007-2015, “and closed the show in the 12th round of a mostly one-sided affair.”

In Conclusion, Message For John Ryder

Saturday's fight does have the potential to be as one-sided as the 2011 encounter with Rhodes was. In terms of ability, there is a sizeable gap between Canelo and Ryder.

The one thing Ryder does have going for him is his durability. Despite five career defeats, he has only been stopped once. He has a solid chin and a great engine. His Gorilla nickname is appropriate – he is a strong 168-pound fighter.

Ryder will need all of his strength and belief if he is to topple Alvarez. The experts can't see it happening, and history suggests it is a fanciful suggestion that the away boxer will emerge victorious.

Perhaps John Ryder will take inspiration from his fellow Londoner John H Stracey.

John Ryder can look to channel John Stracey when he fights Canelo on May 6, 2023

Stranger things have happened than John Ryder upsetting Canelo Alvarez.

If he does, John Ryder will become the undisputed champion at 168-pounds. That alone would make it the most famous away win ever achieved by a UK boxer in Mexico.

A boxing fan since his teenage years, Morrison began writing about the sport in July 2016. He appreciates all styles of boxing and has nothing but respect for those who get in the ring for our entertainment. Morrison is from Scotland and can be found on Twitter @Morrie1981.