Exclusive: Ryder warns Eubank Jr not to underestimate Blackwell

Matt Horan 22/01/2016

Lawrence Lustig

Although Islington’s John Ryder is fully focussed on his upcoming ‘make or break’ fight with Sergey Khomitsky, he will also be rooting for former opponent Nick Blackwell to retain his British middleweight title again in March.

The 27-year old Ryder (21-2, 12 KO) – nicknamed the ‘Gorilla’ – will be challenging the Belarusian for the vacant WBA international middleweight title at London’s Copper Box Arena next Saturday and sees the fight as his last chance to prove his worth.

The only two losses of Ryder’s career have come when challenging for the British title against Billy Joe Saunders and Blackwell and he will know be facing a dangerous opponent who is well familiarised with British boxers. Khomitsky (30- 12, 13 KO) – at 41-years of age – holds stoppage victories over Jamie Moore, Frank Buglioni and Sheffield’s Adam Etches, has also drawn with Blackwell and has twice taken Martin Murray the distance.

“I’m Absolutely buzzing for the fight and I am going to have to be at my best. Boxing is one of those sports where you can be right at the top of the game and then be back down quickly and I’ve been there twice. I’m lucky enough to have this opportunity, so I am determined to make the most of it,” Ryder told World Boxing News.

“This is a great chance for me to prove I still have a lot left and the desire to keep progressing. I am not going in there to try and knock him out, I will box and want to look good doing so. It’s a dangerous fight; he knows how to survive and catch fighters out. It’s all about looking good and getting the win.

“I’m not looking past this fight. In the past I have foolishly looked past fighters before and came unstuck, but now I am just going to take one fight at a time, play it by ear, round by round and fight by fight.”

Since defeating Ryder to win the Lonsdale strap in May of 2015 Blackwell has since successfully defended the belt twice, but will have his hardest defence to date as he prepares to face Chris Eubank Jr on March 5.

“Eubank is the big favourite, but there isn’t much in it for me,” Ryder continued, “You can’t underestimate Blackwell, he has the heart of a lion and great desire, he showed that against me. With that, he now has the champion’s mentality, so it will be a very interesting fight.

“I’m rooting for Blackwell, simply because he beat me and so the better he does in his career, the better it will look on me. Eubank is top class though and he is showing immense ability and is living up to the hype so far. It is probably tough to be the son of a world champion, but he is playing his part at the minute and backing it up in the ring.

“I would happily fight those guys in the future, but for now I am fully focussed on January 30 and proving that I am still a top level fighter.”

Matt Horan is a lead writer for WBN. Follow on Twitter @mhoran123