Frustrated Canelo Alvarez must take valuable homecoming lesson from gutsy John Ryder
A bloodied John Ryder rocked the canvas after being sent tumbling by Canelo Alvarez in the fifth round. A fast, crisp combination from the Mexican superstar appeared to satisfy a feverish crowd at his Guadalajara homecoming.
And then the Briton summoned immense courage, despite a brief, yet uncertain stare into the abyss. The echo of trainer Tony Sims’ advice and encouragement fixed Ryder’s concentration to beat the referee’s count before fending off the belligerent force of Canelo with a knockout in sight.
Plan A had been left in pieces with precious seconds between rounds frittered away after cotton buds momentarily stemmed the flow of blood from his nostrils to his mouth. But as Canelo licked his lips, eager to snatch a morale-boosting stoppage to gain valuable momentum for a rematch against Dmitry Bivol, Ryder grappled, closed the distance and left 50,000 fans frustrated across seven more gruelling rounds.
The outcome was never in doubt as Canelo sauntered to a unanimous decision, with the judges returning cards of 120-107, 118-109 and 118-109 to ensure the undisputed super-middleweight world championship remains in Mexico.
Yet Ryder validated his own worth and perhaps banished a layer of agony from a career that has included, to many, a cruel defeat to Callum Smith in 2019 - his only previous shot at a world title.
There is no bauble or trinket to remember this brave effort either, yet Ryder clearly belongs at this level. And after rising from the canvas, the 34-year-old even put together a flashy combination of his own, pairing a left uppercut with a left hook to force the Canelo truck back into reverse.
“Ryder has realised he’s a world class fighter,” said promoter Eddie Hearn following the contest. “He’ll wake up and enjoy himself. He busted his nose, he won rounds later on, a fantastic effort, he didn’t look for a way out.”
So what next for Canelo? This was scarcely more momentum after victory last time out against the faded force of Gennady Golovkin, who still closed hard to show signs that the Mexican, too, is past his prime.
But Canelo’s pride may yet take him back to 175 pounds against the naturally bigger opponents. His chances of revenge increase at super-middleweight, where the Russian appears bewitched by the prospect of supremacy at a second weight.
While the clamour for a clash with David Benavidez at 168 pounds only grows louder, with the Mexican-American dispatching one of Canelo’s previous victims in Caleb Plant with added finesse.
But such is Canelo’s desire to chase greatness, you sense his mind is made up with Bivol eventually lured into a rematch under the same terms by the exceptional riches available.
Should that be the case, then Canelo might be wise to learn from Ryder’s own battling qualities. Against Bivol, he will need them.