Canelo Decisions Bloodied Ryder to Retain Titles
BY MARK LORENZANA
Mexican boxing superstar Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez retained his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 168-pound championships on the night of Saturday, May 6, by defeating WBO mandatory challenger and interim champion John Ryder via unanimous decision at the sold-out Estadio Akron in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
Álvarez — the odds-on favorite in the fight — managed to hurt Ryder, who suffered a broken nose early in the bout and was dropped in round five, but failed to knock out the tough Englishman.
Born in the outskirts of Guadalajara, Álvarez was fighting on Mexican soil for the first time in 12 years since knocking out Puerto Rican Kermit Cintrón in Mexico City in November 2011.
Both fighters were evidently cautious in the early rounds, which Álvarez dominated nonetheless. Ryder connected on a right hook with 19 seconds left in the third round — his most significant punch in the opening rounds — but Álvarez came out winning that round.
Ryder appeared to have suffered his broken nose in the closing seconds of round four after absorbing a power right from Álvarez. Ryder survived the round but was evidently hurt, his nose bleeding profusely. Álvarez would target Ryder’s broken nose throughout the course of the bout.
A jab-straight combination by Álvarez dropped Ryder with 1:35 remaining in the fifth round. The Englishman got up by the time the referee’s count reached eight, but he was evidently hurt, with blood gushing in spurts from his damaged nose.
Ryder tried to rally in the seventh, landing two clean right-left combinations at the midway point of the round, but the Mexican fired right back with his own power punches, showing his opponent that he wasn’t hurt by Ryder’s well-timed shots.
Ryder went down again in the eighth round in what initially appeared to be another knockdown, but the referee ruled correctly that the challenger tripped on Álvarez’s leg.
In the closing seconds of round nine Álvarez hurt Ryder again, but Ryder rallied in the 10th, trading power shots with the champion. Álvarez landed a hard straight right in the final seconds of the 10th, but Ryder took the power shot in stride.
Egged on by his countrymen, Álvarez appeared even more aggressive in the 12th and final round, wanting to go for the knockout, but a stubborn Ryder showed his toughness and survived the final three minutes.
As soon as the final bell sounded, Álvarez expressed admiration for his tough and gritty opponent.
“He’s a very strong fighter, man,” Álvarez told boxing analyst Chris Mannix in the post-fight interview. “And you know, when he went for everything … everything become more difficult than usual. But I know that. I’ve been in this position lots of times, and I know that. And I respect my opponents because I know they’re coming for everything.”
Ringside judges Jeremy Hayes, Gerardo Martinez and Joe Pasquale scored the fight for Álvarez by a wide margin, 120-107, 118-109 and 118-109, respectively.
Ryder, for his part, talked about the experience of fighting with a damaged nose — a first in his career.
“After all these years of boxing, it’s the first time I’ve broken my nose. It was a new experience, going back to the corner and I just couldn’t breathe, blood going down the back of my throat,” said Ryder. “It was a new experience, but I had a calm corner, they calmed me down. But after that, it was just hard to sit down and get me breathing. I felt that I won the first two rounds, I was boxing sensibly. And then I just got careless.”
Álvarez thanked the 51,000-strong crowd that filled Estadio Akron, and said that the priority for his next fight is a rematch with Russian boxer Dmitry Bivol.
“It’s a historic moment for me. I’m blessed to be here with my people, like I say, who have supported me from the beginning. I’m glad to be here, and I’m very thankful for my people,” said Álvarez. “Everybody knows we want Bivol, the rematch with Bivol. But if that fight doesn’t happen, then we’ll see. I’m able to fight everybody.”