World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight champion Callum "Mundo" Smith faces his mandatory challenger John "The Gorilla" Ryder with the WBA Super 168 pound title he won from George Groves in the WBSS final in September 2018 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at stake. The fight will take place at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool on Saturday, November 23rd.
Smith who is generally considered the top super-middleweight in the world had been hoping to face one of the elite level fighters around his weight division. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin both became viable opposition when they signed up with streaming service DAZN in huge multi-million dollar contracts, Smith's fights are also streamed by DAZN in the USA.
Another fight that has been spoken about was Smith against WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders and that fight also became a realistic option when Saunders recently signed with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing Promotions who look after Smith. But, it is Ryder that gets the opportunity that he has always dreamed of.
Hearn wants to build the Smith vs Saunders fight into a huge event in the British boxing calendar. Anfield Stadium where all the Smith brothers (Paul, Liam, Stephen, and Callum) have grown up supporting Liverpool Football Club will be the preferred venue and with the British weather being unpredictable at best, summer 2020 will be the soonest we can expect the fight to happen.
Ryder will start as a big underdog, as would anyone outside the world's top light-heavyweights, David Benavidez, Caleb Plant, Canelo, and GGG. But, Ryder started his career with many experts tipping him for great things and he looked well on his way winning 15 in a row until he was matched with Billy Joe Saunders in 2013 with the British middleweight title on the line. Ryder lost on all three scorecards 115-114, 115-113, and 115-113.
Five wins later and Ryder once again got a crack at the British title, this time against a much less fancied opponent in Trowbridge's Nick Blackwell, but disaster struck and the Islington man was stopped in 7 rounds. Now there were questions hanging over Ryder as to just how far he could progress.
Four wins in his next six contests didn't do much to suggest that he was any more than a domestic level fighter, the last loss was by unanimous decision to Liverpool's Rocky fielding with the vacant British super-middleweight title up for grabs. The fight was close and Ryder looked good at the weight, but a loss is a loss and it seemed that "The Gorilla" was being fed to the lion's when he was matched with highly touted Dane Patrick Nielson in his next bout.
The fight was on the undercard to George Groves vs Jamie Cox at Wembley Arena and Ryder made the most of the big stage knocking down Nielson in the 2nd round and stopping him in the 5th, and just like that Ryder found himself back in the mix.
A second-round knockout of the once highly fancied Jamie Cox followed and he was then matched with unbeaten Russian Andrey Sirotkin for the WBA super-middleweight mandatory position. Ryder stopped the awkward visitor in 7 rounds and was now one fight from world glory. That chance came on the Canelo Alvarez vs Daniel Jacobs card in Las Vegas and Ryder took his opportunity with both hands, knocking out unbeaten Australian Bilal Akkawy in 3 rounds to become WBA Interim champion.
Ryder is such an improved fighter that he may be able to give Smith some stiff opposition but the gap in skill will be too much for the southpaw from Islington in North London as well as a 6-inch height and reach disadvantage.
Prediction: Callum Smith wins by stoppage inside 7 rounds.