FOR John Ryder it is a fairy-tale victory. On Saturday night he edged out Danny Jacobs on a split decision at Alexandra Palace in London.
Ryder was the underdog against the American star and for him this was a triumph against the odds, after a long road and a hard career that has seen him lose close fights with the likes of Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith but also rack up a sequence of impressive performances to earn a shot at a big name opponent. That finally arrived when Jacobs came to the UK for this 12 round clash.
For much of the first half of fight, Jacobs served up a reminder of his quality. Afterall he’d given Gennady Golovkin plenty of problems when they fought in 2017 and was a worthy opponent for Canelo Alvarez. In Ryder’s hometown Jacobs seized the ascendancy from the start, moving deftly from side to side, firing swift, straight jabs into the target. Thudding crosses stopped Ryder from closing in, allowing Jacobs to take control of the first half of the contest.
But he didn’t close Ryder out of the fight. Instead the English southpaw managed to cuff shots at Jacobs when they were up close. Ryder exploded to life in the seventh round, catching up to Jacobs, hurting him when he dug stern left crosses through. The American tied him up in clinches, no longer looking to manhandle the smaller man but instead trying to stem John’s attacks as he pushed forward.
In another miscalculation Jacobs switched southpaw time after time in the second half of the fight. If he intended it throw Ryder off, he was mistaken. The American opened himself up to John’s attacks and Ryder seized his opportunities to land shots, his clubbing right hook effective.
What had begun with Jacobs seeming to be in cruise control ended as a close fight. The decision was split, two judges, Jean-Robert Laine and Mike Fitzgerald, scoring 115-113 for Ryder and one, Marcus McDonnell, by the same margin for Jacobs. Scoring from ringside I finished with Jacobs two rounds ahead too. That makes the American unlucky, he is right to feel aggrieved even if this wasn’t a ‘robbery’ as such. It was a close encounter in which, after starting so well, he let Ryder get himself back into the fight and build up his own momentum. Ryder is no stranger to contentious decisions himself, finally some luck has gone his way.