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Billy Joe Saunders dropping out of the running to fight one of boxing’s biggest draws has handed a golden opportunity to his Super-Middleweight competition. A fight with Canelo, even behind closed doors, would represent a huge payday as the U.S is such a lucrative market.
Earlier this week Callum Smith was quick to offer himself up as Canelo’s next opponent stating, “I do want the Canelo fight and I won’t shy away from it. I’m not saying he’s avoiding me, and I know there’s a lot that goes into deciding an opponent, but that’s for Canelo, Golden Boy and DAZN to sort out. If they want to pick up the phone, then I’m here to talk.”
For Canelo, a matchup with Smith makes great sense as between them they hold the ‘regular’ and ‘super’ WBC belts in the Super-Middleweight division. That fight is easy to market and would give Canelo something worthwhile to gain other than a paycheck. However, they tried to make a fight with Smith happen earlier this year but didn’t offer Smith enough money. Rather than starting negotiations and making a counter-offer, they abandoned talks and contacted Saunders instead.
So, if Smith is the front runner for this fight, why would Golden Boy be willing to entertain John Ryder? The answer is money. If Canelo’s team weren’t willing to offer Smith more money first time around, with the September fight being behind closed doors it’s doubtful they could make an improved offer now. Between the two, Smith is the bigger draw and offers Canelo a belt, but is also more costly.
Ryder thinks he might have an opening and said Hearn has contacted Canelo’s team to make it known that he’s available. Ryder told Sky Sports, “he’s looking for an opponent, and I know the money is not there for these big shows. It’s a chance in a lifetime, I’m up for it. I’m in the gym, I’m keeping fit, I’ve been keeping fit the whole lockdown.”
With Ryder sitting at 7th in the division and Smith at 2nd according to BoxRec, Canelo could book Ryder for September for a lower purse. With Golden Boy and DAZN having to walk the fine line of not overpaying an opponent for a fight they can’t sell tickets to, with booking an underwhelming but cheaper opponent, Ryder could strike the perfect balance of price and quality.
As an opponent for Ryder, Canelo would represent a huge step-up. Canelo is a monster and Ryder has already lost to Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, and Rocky Fielding, all of whom would also have a nightmare of a night against Canelo. But, with Ryder narrowly losing to Smith by what many thought was a bad decision, he and Smith could offer Canelo a similar level of resistance. Ryder also gave Saunders a hard fight back in 2013, so Ryder makes a good substitute for the man Canelo already tried to face.
With Ryder already having some losses on his record, he can also go into the Canelo fight with less fear than Smith, who is currently unbeaten. The worst that can happen for Ryder is he loses, which he’s already done. But the best that can happen would be a monumental upswing for the London boy.
While Ryder beating Canelo might feel like an impossibility, no one expected Ruiz to beat Joshua last year. Neither did we think Scott Fitzgerald would upset Anthony Fowler the way he did, especially not after struggling so hard to make weight.
So, while Ryder hasn’t fought anyone near Canelo’s caliber yet, sometimes boxers need their biggest challenge to find the best in themselves.