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‘I know John Ryder won that fight!’

John Ryder
Action Images/Reuters/Lee Smith
Tony Sims, the trainer of John Ryder, on the heart-breaking nature of the defeat to Callum Smith

TO lose like that was heart-breaking. I’ve been with John Ryder since he was 15 years old, I’ve seen him work his nuts off in the gym for years and years to get in that position for a world title. I’ve been with him when he’s taken a chance in the away corner just so he can move forward. He wanted that world title so much. He deserved to win it, too.

I’ve been around boxing a long, long time and I know he won that fight. I knew he was winning during the fight and I knew, when that final bell went, he’d won and won it well. There was no doubt in my mind.

I heard the first score of 117-111 and I must admit I was surprised. I thought, ‘Wow, they’ve given it to John by that much?’ I thought it might be a bit closer than that what with Callum Smith being champion and it being in Liverpool. Then I heard the next two scores of 116-112 and I did not think for one second they were about to announce Callum Smith as the winner.

Callum Smith vs John Ryder
Action Images/Reuters/Lee Smith

But what can you do? It happens all the time. You’ll get scores like that and then you don’t hear anything more about it. You just see the officials turn up at the next fight as if nothing has happened. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for Robert Smith. I know the pressure the British Boxing Board of Control are under. I know what a hard job he has. I don’t blame him. I know they don’t have much time or resources to be carrying out hearings and investigations every five minutes. I understand that. But when the judges put in moody scores they need to be pulled up.

It’s ruined a kid’s life and it’s getting on my nerves. I’m telling the kids in the gym, ‘Do everything right and everything will come to you.’ But John did everything right and it didn’t come to him did it? It makes me look like I’m telling lies to these kids.

It’s not easy but we have to find a way to move with the times. I’d like to see open scoring implemented like they do with some of the WBC title fights, when you get the scores after every four rounds. At least then you’d know which way it was going, which way the judges are seeing the fight.

I have sent an email to WBA president Gilberto Mendoza. I want that fight reviewed but above all I want John to retain his status as the mandatory. We want a rematch. It’s not fair for John to drop down and then have to fight for the right to be mandatory again.

John fought so well and followed the game plan exactly. He’s had Callum Smith in his mind for a year. I said that beforehand at the press conference, ‘I bet Callum hasn’t had John in his mind for a year, he’s been talking about Canelo and all these other big names.’ But we had Callum in our minds.

If we do get the rematch I think John will beat him. I think he’s got his number. The tactics were right and they’d be right next time.

But while I criticise the scoring it’s only fair that I give credit to the referee, Michael Alexander. He’s one of the best referees in the country and he was outstanding on Saturday night. He let them fight on the inside. If he’d have been breaking them up all the time, we might not be talking like this now.

John won that fight. But he won’t be the champion nor fighting for the champion’s purse in his next fight. He’s never got big money, real big money. This fight should have changed that. It should have changed his life and changed the life of his wife and two kids.

Watching him at the end, it was choking, the unfairness of it all.

1 Comment

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  • (1) Being involved with boxing all your life doesn’t mean you can score a fight properly.
    (2) Being a fighter’s trainer or friend hardly leads to unbiased scoring of their fights.
    (3) IMO the judge’s scorecards were much too wide but that doesn’t mean that Smith didn’t win.
    (4) Many fans give a fighter more credit than they should when the fighter does better than expected.
    (5) Judging certainly needs reviewing – imo an independent body training, appointing, disciplining and paying judges and referees would improve things, using more judges and embracing technology may also help.

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