In 2017, no one could have guessed that six years later John Ryder would be challenging Canelo for the undisputed world titles.
Back then, Ryder had just made the move up to super middleweight, having struggled every time he had stepped up in level at middleweight, suffering losses against Billy Joe Saunders, Nick Blackwell and Jack Arnfield.
And even after deciding to take on the 168 lb division, it seemed to be the same old story for Londoner Ryder, as he faltered at British title level, getting beaten by split decision against Rocky Fielding.
Ryder’s next fight, however, against Denmark’s Patrick Nielsen completely changed his trajectory.
The pair clashed on the undercard of George Groves vs Jamie Cox in the World Boxing Super Series at Wembley Arena in London.
The Brit landed a thunderous right hook in round two that sent his opponents mouthguard flying out of his mouth, as he dropped to his knees.
But, Nielsen made it back to his feet and survived until round five when Ryder once again knocked out his mouthguard with a right hook and the man from Denmark looked out on his feet.
Ryder then followed up with a brutal left hand-right uppercut combination to drop his seemingly defenceless opponent, as the fight was waved off and the Brit secured the win he so desperately needed.
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There was no stopping Ryder from this point, as he went on a four fight KO streak before getting a world title shot against Callum Smith.
‘The Gorilla’ gave it his all bringing the fight to Smith, relentless in his attacks, and many considered Ryder unlucky to lose by unanimous decision on the judges scorecards.
But, Ryder was not derailed by this minor setback, as he continued his rise to the top, putting together another four fight win streak, including most notably a victory over former two-time middleweight world champion Daniel Jacobs.
This all earned Ryder the shot of a lifetime as he takes on one of the biggest names in boxing in Canelo on Saturday night for the undisputed super middleweight world titles.
Ryder is a huge underdog and will be fighting in Canelo’s home country of Mexico, but this has not deterred him.
“The pressure’s all on him,” Ryder told Boxing News.
“It’s his first time back home in 12 years, and after the worst year of his career – last year was the best of mine.
“Getting in there on fight night the pressure will be on him again.”