By Barry Holbrook: John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) may have punched his ticket for a life-changing fight against Canelo Alvarez next May with his fifth-round injury stoppage win over Zach Parker (22-1, 16 KOs) on Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London.
The fight was halted after the fourth round because the 27-year-old Parker suffered a right-hand injury, causing the bout to be halted.
With the big money fight on the line against Canelo, it’s surprising that Parker didn’t stick it out and continue the battle one-handed. His left hand was still a weapon for him, but it would have been difficult to win without his right.
In rounds one through four, Ryder took the fight to the inside and nullified the power of Parker.
When the action was on the outside, Parker was landing big shots, but Ryder repeatedly crowded him and took away his ability to get leverage on his punches. Ryder was like glue in close, not letting Parker get the space that he needed for him to unload his bombs.
In the end, Parker lacked the experience to mix it up with an operator like Ryder, and he had no answers to his fighting style.
In Parker’s previous fights as a pro, he’d been matched against lower-level opposition that fell apart when he’d land his big shots on them.
Tonight, Parker looked lost when Ryder didn’t crumble in the first three rounds, and it was clear that if the fight had gone into the second half, he would have been knocked out.
After the fight, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn was over the moon with Ryder’s victory, as he now wants to set up an in-house fight with Canelo Alvarez on Cinco de Mayo next May.
Hearn ecstatic about Ryder’s win
“I’m so pleased for John Ryder. Since he beat Daniel Jacobs [earlier this year], we’ve been looking for this big fight. We didn’t expect it to be Zach Parker, but he came through with a great performance.
“It was too much for Zach Parker. I think Zach Parker had an injured hand, but John Ryder was getting to him, and I believe he would have stopped him anyway.
“I’ve already texted [Canelo’s trainer/manager] Eddy Reynoso to say, ‘John Ryder is the [WBO] mandatory; let’s go in May at the Emirates.’ I have a dream for John Ryder, he deserves it, and he’s a very, very good fighter.
“He’s now the mandatory challenger for Canelo Alvarez. This could be our chance to bring Canelo to the UK. This could be unbelievable, and we’ll see if we can get it over the line.”
In the chief support bout, undefeated WBC silver middleweight champion Hamzah Sheeraz (17-0, 13 KOs) defeated River Wilson-Bent (13-2-1, 6 KOs) by a second-round knockout. The time of the stoppage was at 2:55 of the second.
Undefeated WBC International silver lightweight champion Sam Noakes (10-0, 10 KOs) kept his perfect record intact with a fourth-round knockout of Calvin McCord 12-0, 2 KOs).
In the fourth, Noakes dropped McCord four times to get the knockout. The time of the stoppage was 2:14.
Undefeated light welterweight Pierce O’Leary (11-0, 6 KOs) beat Emmanuel Mungandjela (16-4-1, 7 KOs) by a 10-round unanimous decision to capture the vacant WBC International title. The judges scored it 99-89, 99-90, and 96-92.
Undefeated super bantamweight Dennis McCann (14-0, 8 KOs) defeated Joe Ham 17-4, 6 KOs) by an eighth round knockout. The time of the stoppage was at 2:28.