John Ryder is determined to continue his hot streak at super-middleweight and put himself in the running for a “dream” world title fight against Callum Smith at Anfield.
‘The Gorilla’, following two highlight-reel knockout wins over Patrick Nielsen and Jamie Cox, takes on unbeaten Russian Andrey Sirotkin at the Copper Box Arena, London, this Saturday, in a final eliminator for Smith’s WBA ‘Super’ world title, live on Sky Sports.
Ryder is enjoying a golden period in his career and things could continue on the upward trajectory if mandated to take on Smith. The Liverpool star impressively stopped George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series final last month and is now keen on a massive homecoming fight at the Liverpool FC 54,000-seater stadium.
“I feel great at super-middle,” Ryder said, speaking exclusively to Sky Sports, “The best is still yet to come and I don’t feel like I’ve hit my prime, I’m excited about the future.
“If you look at the champions with the WBA, you’ve got Smith who just beat George Groves for the Ring magazine and WBA ‘Super’ titles, and then Canelo is fighting Fielding for the WBA regular so they’re all huge fights. It’s a brilliant time to be in an eliminator for a WBA shot.
“We talk about fighting in arenas, that’s big enough, but it doesn’t get bigger than fighting in a stadium, you dream of stuff like that.
We talk about fighting in arenas, that’s big enough, but it doesn’t get bigger than fighting in a stadium, you dream of stuff like that.
“I think it’d be the first fight at Anfield, it’d be a great thing and is a real possibility. Although I’ve got a lot of respect for Callum and his family, this is boxing and I’m in the sport for big fights.
“Callum was faultless against Groves, he took his time, looked patient and fought like a champion. He had his game-plan, boxed to orders and the result came.”
Ryder is staying fully-focused on “unknown quantity” Sirotkin though and knows he cannot afford to let Saturday’s golden opportunity slip.
“I’ve got a mixture of emotions ahead of the fight, I’m nervous because I’m half not knowing what to expect and just playing things through my mind but also excited, it’s a big stage for me to perform on and I can’t wait to soak up the atmosphere.
“I’ve watched some clips of him [Sirotkin], I don’t think he’s had a very extensive amateur background, more of a kickboxing one. He’s tricky and durable with a lot of points victories so doesn’t look like the biggest puncher.
“He’s a tough Russian and will be stone-faced, hard and fit as a fiddle. He deserves respect.
“I have to be focused and concentrate on the job in hand. If the knockout opportunity comes then, of course, I will take it. I’ve got to respect Sirotkin, he’s a bit of an unknown quantity, I can’t afford to make any silly mistakes.”