DMITRY BIVOL, the holder of the WBA light-heavyweight belt, is due to fight Canelo Alvarez on May 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
DAZN will televise on pay-per-view, tickets are on sale and the fight is on course to happen. But it will be controversial. Bivol is Russian. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in solidarity other jurisdictions are sanctioning Russia athletes. For instance the Russian team has been banned from international amateur boxing and in the UK boxers licensed with the Russian federation aren’t allowed to compete. If that situation changes in America or Nevada, British super-middleweight John Ryder would volunteer his services as a replacement.
“I said to John you don’t know how the land lies day by day with it all. I know the WBA are okay with letting that fight happen but you don’t know day by day what the government will think about letting the fight happen with a Russian fighter. I’m always ticking John over anyway,” Tony Sims, Ryder’s trainer, tells Boxing News.
Ryder has sought an Alvarez fight before. After pushing Callum Smith close when he held the WBA’s super-middleweight belt, the Londoner was making himself available for Canelo if he’d needed a short-notice replacement opponent last year. To maintain his place at the top level, earlier this year he outscored Danny Jacobs, a former Canelo opponent, in his last fight.
He took that win over Jacobs in February and, after two weeks off, got back to training. Ryder’s been sparring once a week, including helping Conor Benn with some rounds against a southpaw in preparation for his fight with Chris Van Heerden. “He’s been doing a bit with Conor over the last few weeks,” Sims said. “John shows him bits and pieces.
“It’s nice to have his experience on board.”
Alvarez has been firmly in Ryder’s sights during his training. Promoter Eddie Hearn has said Canelo is considering boxing in the UK in December of this year. “I think John will be in pole position to do that fight. If that’s definite he may have a warm up in the summer,” his trainer noted. “You don’t want to be sitting around waiting all the time. You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do but he is in a good position at the moment.”
But if an opportunity to box Canelo came up sooner, Ryder would still take it. “We’ll go for it. John’s kept in shape,” Tony said. “If it’s looking anything like he might step in then obviously I’ll step his training up and take your opportunity then. But obviously your ideal thing would be to get your 12 weeks’ notice and then take the fight. But he’s in a good position at the minute. He’s won that big fight against Jacobs and his name’s there. As Eddie said he’s probably mandatory now with the WBA to fight Canelo [at super-middleweight]. He’s in decent shape anyway and he can step up at any time.”
“We’re not in the politics,” Sims added. “We’re just in the boxing game so who knows? That’s something that out of our hands. I’m watching the TV and the news, the same as you, so I don’t know what way it’s going to go.
“Whether it happens in May or whether it happens in December, he’ll be ready.”