John Ryder talks to Livefight
John Ryder won’t be letting himself go completely over the festive season but, following an impressive stoppage of Eamonn O’Kane in a British title eliminator last Saturday night, the London born middleweight can afford to put his feet up and reflect on a successful end to the year.
Having originally prepared himself to face transplanted Albanian Kreshnik Qato for the English belt, 24 year old Ryder, 13-0 (8), instead rounded out 2012 against the previously unbeaten O’Kane. Ryder made the now 8-1 (3) former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Prizefighter champion look ungainly throughout the contest, survived the Irishman’s clubbing blows and timed him increasingly well with his left hand. The end came in the eighth round when O’Kane was hurt by a beautiful left hook and finished by Ryder’s accurate follow up attack. After the fight, ‘The Gorilla’ caught up with Livefight and declared himself happy with his nights work.
“I’m over the moon,” he said. “He was a great name and I knew it was gonna be a tough night. It was a real 50-50 fight so I’m just pleased to have come out on top. We knew I was gonna have to be patient and pick my shots. I had to be sensible and not get lured into a fight. I thought I did that pretty well and stay focused and switched on at all times. We ended up getting the result we wanted.”
O’Kane may have enjoyed success as an amateur but he brings a very un-amateur style to the ring. Aggressive and heavy hitting, it seems like every shot he throws is intended to do serious damage. Although Ryder was well on top at the bouts conclusion, it sounds like any of O’Kane’s future opponents can expect a hard night’s work.
“He’s very, like, ‘brawlish’. Knowing that he’s won Commonwealth gold medals, you think to yourself, ‘How has he done it?’” says Ryder. “He throws a lot of shots and they’re quite wild. Although they don’t always land clean they sometimes land around the back or side of the head. Although they might not be scoring shots they take their toll on you. I’ve got a few lumps and bruises on my head but it’s a small price to pay for the victory. He’s not a one punch knockout artist, it’s the clubbing effect of his punches that wear you down I suppose.”
The fight with Qato would have been Ryder’s first major title opportunity. Qato’s withdrawal a couple of weeks before the fight meant that Ryder had to refocus his attention and facing a fellow unbeaten prospect in O’Kane bought its own kind of pressure. After listening to Ryder’s thoughts on the build up to the fight, you can’t help but feel that the manner of his victory will boost his confidence immeasurably in the future.
“It was quite short notice really. When I heard Qato had pulled out there were a few names mentioned and there was a tweet sent out by O’Kane and the fight ended up getting made. I was nervous and apprehensive and I was doubting myself at times knowing what I was up against. There’s only us two in the ring though and we both put in what we could.
“I was getting a lot of tweets off Eamonn’s fans saying he was gonna knock me out and as much as you try and not let it affect you, it’s there in the back of your mind no matter how much you try and switch off. I got to the arena and started warming up and felt great. I felt sharp, I felt focused and I felt determined. In that short space of time I got really switched on and it was something I really needed to do.”
Ryder is set to reappear early next year and there is a chance that the Qato fight could be rescheduled. To the onlooker, that fight would seem to be the perfect next career step but as long as the man in the opposite corner has a title, Ryder doesn’t care who he is. “For me, it’s all about the belts,” he says. “I want belts around my waist and it would have been nice to end the year with the English title but it wasn’t to be. I suppose winning a British title eliminator is pretty much the same as the English title as it’s got me up there in the rankings closer to a British title shot. The English belt would still be nice to win to say I’d held it and use it as a stepping stone.”
Beating O’Kane had an added benefit. The Matchroom promoted card was initially scheduled to feature Gavin Rees’ fight with John Murray and the highly anticipated Lee Purdy – Carson Jones fight. With both of those fights falling apart, Ryder’s fight was moved up the bill and shown live on Sky Sports. With Chris Eubank Jr fighting on Channel 5 on the same night and Billy Joe Saunders meeting Nick Blackwell for the British middleweight belt this weekend, it was a timely boost for Ryder’s profile.
“I didn’t think it would be at first but over the period of days since the match was made it started generating a lot of interest and I think people were interested to see two unbeaten fighters put it on the line,” Ryder says. “It’s good to get more casual fans interested. The die hards know of me and O’Kane but the casual fans only know the big names.
“British boxing’s coming up to a good era. Eamonn O’Kane can still come again and there can still be good fights between me, Eamonn, Billy Joe Saunders, Chris Eubank Jr. There can be still be multiple fights between the lot of us.”
At the moment, those clashes will probably only generate excitement amongst British fight fans but if the fighters mentioned continue their current rate of improvement, the fights might well end up generating interest on the world scene.
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