Callum Smith Looking To Impress Against John Ryder
By: Sean Crose
Liverpool M&S Bank Arena will host Saturday’s scheduled 12 round showdown between WBA super middleweight titlist Callum Smith and fellow Brit John Ryder. Smith is highly regarded, with a record of twenty-six wins and no losses. With victories over the likes of George Groves and Hassan N’Dam, Smith is also considered a man who can face some of the sport’s bigger challenges. What’s more, Smith himself is more than willing to step up to the figurative plate. “I believe I’m the No 1 in that (super middleweight) division,” Smith is recently quoted as saying by Sky Sports, “so he’ll have to come and beat me to take that place”
Photo Credit: Joe Gallagher Twitter Account
It’s easy to guess who Smith was referring to in the above quote. For Canelo Alvarez jumped up to super middleweight and snagged a title for himself by besting Rocky Fielding late last year. Not that Smith is relying on a fight with Canelo to define himself and his career. “I’m not going to waste my career waiting for a fight that might never happen,” Smith added. “If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, there’s still plenty of other big fights.” Some of those other fights may include the likes of fellow champions David Benavidez, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant, as Smith has indicated a willingness to unify the super middleweight division.
“That’s what I want,” Smith told Sky, “to collect as many belts as I can. To cement myself as the best on the planet.” Still, though, there’s the matter of London’s Ryder, who Smith is going to face this weekend. Although he’s clearly an underdog, the 28-4 fighter is getting a title shot in a year where upsets are in the air. “”It’s a massive opportunity for him,” Sky quotes Smith as saying of his opponent. “He’ll have had the best training camp he’s ever had and he’ll be coming to give it his all.”
Although he doesn’t have the most prestigious resume, the 31 year old Ryder is riding – pardon the pun – a four fight winning streak that began back in 2017 when he knocked out Patrick Nielson at Wembley. Although he’s viewed as essentially being a tuneup for a rising star, Ryder has taken to knocking opponents out on a regular basis since losing to Rocky Fielding in 2017 by split decision.
Yet Smith and Ryder aren’t the only attractions on Saturday’s card – which will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service. The 10-1-0 Anthony Fowler will be facing the 8-0 Harry Scarff for the World Boxing Association International Super Welterweight Title, which is currently vacant, in a scheduled 10 rounder. James Tennyson, who some may remember being stopped by Tevin Farmer back in 2018, will also be on the card. The 25-3 fighter will be stepping in the ring to face the 20-2-2 Craig Evans in a 12 round lightweight affair.
Although the undercard isn’t stellar and the main event is expected to be one sided, Saturday’s Smith-Ryder card can be seen as something of a tuneup in its own right, as it will air several hours before the heavyweight title pay per view fight between Deontay Wilder, and Luis Ortiz.
Bellew Defeats Haye Again, Butler and Ryder Win
By: Ste Rowen
At London’s O2 Arena, Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew once again overcame an early onslaught to defeat David Haye, even more decisively as their first meeting.
From the first bell the ‘Hayemaker’ looked to control the centre of the ring, constantly forcing Bellew back without efficiently cutting off the ring. Much like their 1st bout, Haye’s punching, though more constant, was very wayward. Every time David made a fairly substantial attack, Bellew literally shrugged it off, and prepared himself to counter the next attack. Towards the end of the 2nd round Tony threw his hands up as if to say, ‘Is that all you got?’
It seemed it might be.
Through 3, Bellew looked to control the centre ground. The ‘Bomber’ aimed to fire first in the round and as Haye prowled forward, Bellew countered with the jab and overhand right. Haye seemed to be throwing punches for the sake of it, without any real intent. Yet again, Bellew seemed so far out of reach of the ‘Hayemaker’ and with 20 seconds left of the 3rd, the ‘Bomber’ launched an assault, and a left-right hit the sweet spot to drop the Bermondsey native.
Haye had barely enough time to recover before Bellew was on him again, and the Liverpudlian took full advantage as he dropped the ‘Hayemaker’ yet again with a right hook into the corner of the ring. The bell rang for the end of the 3rd before what might’ve been a 9-minute finisher by Tony Bellew. Haye came out battling in the 4th round, but Bellew continued to look like the superior boxer. The David Haye of old was long gone by now, if not sooner.
With Bellew on the offensive at the end of the 4th round, heading into the 5th, the fight seemed poised. Then with 1:10 left on the clock, Bellew fired off a right-left that brutally dropped Haye yet again, and this time, it signalled the end. Haye rose, but looked shaky, and like any true boxer, Bellew went in for the kill. With less than 60 seconds on the clock, the ‘Bomber’ began to tee off on Haye and the referee had seen enough. Howard Foster stepped in, and called an end to Bellew vs Haye 2, with Tony Bellew emerging the victor once again.
Speaking post-fight, Bellew wasn’t completely clear on who he wanted next,
‘Me and Dillian (Whyte) have had words over the years. Dillian is a good fighter. It’s a hard fight, but it’s a fight for nothing…I’m a walking super series, every fight I’m in is the Super Series.’
‘Usyk, Gassiev, Andre Ward? You name them, I keep beating them. Just give me someone.’
On the undercard…
John Ryder vs Jamie Cox
After stopping Jamie Cox in the 2nd round, John Ryder has laid claimed to being THE super middleweight of Great Britain, despite the Lonsdale belt laying vacant.
Both southpaws came out swinging but both seemed to recognise the task ahead within a couple of minutes of the 1st round. The fight looked even as it headed into the 2nd until, with 2:23 on the clock, Ryder landed, what seemed to be, a routine right hand to the temple of Cox, dropping the former world title challenger, and, as the crowd waited for Cox to rise, the referee counted Ryder’s foe out. Cox tried to rise on number 10 of the 10-count, but that’s always a sure sign of a defeated man; and that’s just how Ian John Lewis saw it, as he waved off the bout.
So now with the likes of, David Brophy, Zach Parker, or even a rematch with Rocky Fielding waiting, John Ryder knows, the next fight is imperative to his progression.
Paul Butler vs Emmanuel Rodriguez
Emmanuel Rodriguez is the new IBF bantamweight champion of the world after a competitive, but ultimately clear 12 round decision victory over former holder of the same belt, Paul Butler.
After Paul Butler weighed in 3lbs over the bantamweight limit, and refused to attempt a 2nd weigh-in, the IBF bantamweight world championship was only on the line for Puerto Rican, Emmanuel Rodriguez, and it seemed ‘Manny’ was taking his anger of Butler’s disregard for the 118-limit, out on him in the 1st round. Rodriguez punished Butler for 3 minutes, knocking down the Liverpudlian twice. The ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ survived through to the 4th, attempting to rally and regain the rounds lost at the start of the fight.
From the 5th though, Rodriguez played both predator and prey, luring Butler in, only to fire off point scoring counters. As the rounds grew on, Rodriguez played with Butler, knowing the IBF belt was within his grasp. The final scorecards came back as, 118-108, 120-106, 120-106.
As comprehensive as those scorecards were though, Rodriguez will know, in a division with such champions as Ryan Burnett, Zolani Tete, and most likely, soon to be WBA ‘Regular’ champ, Naoya Inoue, there should be no easy fights going forward.
Lenroy Thomas vs Joe Joyce
Joe Joyce became the new commonwealth heavyweight champion in just his 4th pro bout with a 2nd round stoppage of Lenroy ‘TNT’ Thomas.
Joyce took the fight to Thomas immediately and though the work wasn’t as precise as the former Olympian would have hoped, it seemed to be having the desired effect, as Lenroy struggled through the 1st round. Right at the end of the first 3 minutes, Joyce dropped his Jamaican foe with a heavy left-hand body shot.
Saved by the bell, ‘TNT’ entered the 2nd round knowing he was in for a rough night. The 2nd followed the 1st as the sheer accumulation of punches from Joyce put the Commonwealth champ down once again. Thomas rose once more, but he was throwing absolutely nothing back by now and it seemed just a matter of time before the ‘Juggernaut’ finished the job.
With less than 30 seconds on the clock of the 2nd, Joyce put Lenroy down with another brutal left hook to the head, and that was that, as the bout was waved off, and Joe Joyce took another massive step towards the biggest honours.
Now, 4-0 (4KOs) and commonwealth heavyweight champion, Joyce was ready to talk up his ambitions post-fight,
‘I wanted to land, and hopefully gave everyone watching a good show…I knew he’d be a tricky opponent…I viewed my range and got to him.’
‘The world’s my oyster…I’d like to challenge for the British title.’
Joshua Buatsi vs Stephane Cuevas
Joshua Buatsi continued his steady rise in the pro ranks with a 5th round stoppage of 8-1-3, Stephane Cuevas.
The Ghanaian born light heavyweight, teed off on Cuevas all night, and in the 5th round began to rifle power shots off the head of his French opponent until the referee stepped in and ended the fight. There’s still the obvious signs of an elite amateur, fighting for points rather than for the knockout, but with the quality of output Buatsi displays, that’s hardly a criticism.
Post-fight, Eddie Hearn, Buatsi’s promoter, laid out future plans,
‘On to 10 rounds next…He’ll box on our September show in New York…He’s down to earth, he’s working hard, and the only thing that can stop him, is Joshua Buatsi himself.’
Martin Ward vs James Tennyson
With the Commonwealth and European super featherweight titles on the line, anticipation was high heading into this England vs. Northern Ireland matchup, and it was the green and white army that took it, as James Tennyson stopped Martin Ward in the 5th round of a pulsating fight.
Ward was wearing the yellow and blue of Ukraine, and in the early rounds, the Essex native was displaying the kind of defensive movement Lomachenko would be happy with, but it wasn’t just his defence that was impressive as, at the end of the 2nd round, ‘Wardy’ landed a beautiful left hook to the body that dropped Tennyson. The Irishman rose before the count and came out all guns blazing for the third.
After a blistering, all action 3rd and 4th, Tennyson returned the favour for the 2nd round 10-8, with a knockdown of his own. The Irishman wasted no time in taking advantage of a dazed Ward, dropping his opponent again, forcing the referee to call time on the bout.
Heading into the fight as the underdog, James ‘The Assassin’ Tennyson is now the new, Commonwealth and EBU European super featherweight champion.
Luke Campbell vs Troy James
Luke Campbell returned to the ring for the first time since his competitive split decision loss to WBA world champion, Jorge Linares, with a dominant stoppage in the 5th round of a scheduled 6-round bout against ‘Terrifying’ Troy James.
In complete control from the first bell, Campbell, now 18-2 (14KOs) will be grateful for the rounds considering the length of time he’s been out of the ring (8 months). Speaking after the fight, Campbell had Yvan Mendy, the only other man to have beaten ‘Cool Hand’, firmly in sight for his future 2018 plans.