Zach Parker vs. John Ryder: The young gun and the seasoned veteran prepare for a classic all-British encounter
John Ryder is 34 years old and has fought 36 fights in his career
Zach Parker vs. John Ryder has all the hallmarks of a classic all-British encounter.
The rivals met at a media conference Thursday ahead of their fight for the vacant WBO super middleweight title on Saturday, and the narrative on display was tried and tested.
The young challenger meets the seasoned veteran.
Parker, 28, proves he belongs at a top level. Ryder thinks the “wild boy” is overwhelmed.
At 34, Ryder is billed as the experienced fighter who is past his best. Parker is the badass rising star who’s ready for the big time.
“This is definitely my toughest fight yet,” Parker told ` Sport. “All the question marks are really around me because he was in there with top guys.”
Parker is the undefeated and untried big puncher. With 16 knockouts in 22 wins, he has a 73% knockout rate and has accumulated five straight stoppages.
In contrast, Ryder has been with some of the best in the world, like former world champions Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders. Or, as Parker puts it, Ryder was “around the block.”
Five losses and 17 knockouts from 31 wins make Ryder a far more experienced fighter, but he’s almost amused by the “veteran status” Team Parker ascribes to him.
Ryder messed up the odds in February when he defeated American Daniel Jacobs and was then selected by the WBO to contend for their vacant interim super middleweight title after Parker’s original opponent Demetrius Andrade retired through injury.
However, Parker’s team sees the competition as the perfect opportunity to present themselves as a real contender.
For Ryder, he knows the money of the house is with Parker.
“It’s important to enjoy the underdog mentality,” Ryder said. “People don’t give you much credit, so it’s up to you to shine. People don’t expect anything from me.
“They expect him to fool me.”
“Nothing beats experience”
Ryder lost a points decision to Callum Smith in 2019, a fight many thought was won
Ryder messed up the odds by defeating two-time world champion Jacobs. He believes he was cast as an underdog for much of his career.
He plans to surprise people again on Saturday at London’s O2 Arena and while he accepts Parker is a tough hitter, he says the opponents are nowhere near as high as before.
“You can’t buy experience,” he says. “There’s not a lot I haven’t seen in a pro ring. I got my head hit, I got my elbow hit. Not a lot I haven’t seen, southpaw, hitter, come forward, backfooter – I’ve seen it all.
“I have to use this experience that I’ve had in the ring to push myself and push myself.”
“I want to be known like Froch and Calzaghe” – Parker
Parker is aiming for a sixth straight stop win
The winner of Saturday’s encounter will put himself in the best position to challenge WBO Champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The Mexican is unbeaten at super middleweight and both men are desperate to get in the ring against one of boxing’s biggest stars.
However, Ryder knows he must never look past your next competition.
“I think he would be a fool to underestimate me. I don’t underestimate him either,” he says.
“He needs his outstanding moment and I’m sure he’s hoping it will be against me. But I’m here to piss off the apple cart and advance my career.”
Parker insists his focus remains firmly on Ryder, even as he dreams of a future where he will be mentioned in the same breath as Joe Calzaghe and Carl Froch.
“You see people like Calzaghe against Jeff Lacey, that should be a really tough fight for him and he’s built a clinic,” Parker said.
“I want to do that too. I want to be known like the top guys of the past, people like Froch and Calzaghe and people like Ricky Hatton.”