With much of the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division currently waiting to see what current undisputed world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will do next, whether it be in the division or a potential move up to the Cruiserweight division, an interesting encounter will take place on Saturday, February 12th in London, England between two fighters who likely have intentions of facing Alvarez down the road. This observer is speaking of the Super-Middleweight encounter between former IBF Middleweight world champion Daniel Jacobs and top Super-Middleweight contender John Ryder.
Jacobs, is unbeaten since moving to the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division and he looks to go for his third victory in the division in this fight against Ryder. Some may recall that the last person to beat Jacobs in the ring was Saul Alvarez, who defeated him in a unification bout when the two met as Middleweights in 2019. Obviously, both due to the position Alvarez holds as the current undisputed champion of the Super-Middleweight division as well as the financial incentives involved, Jacobs would likely welcome a potential rematch with Alvarez with open arms if the opportunity were to become available to him.
In his last fight in November 2020, Jacobs scored a close twelve round split decision victory over former world title challenger Gabriel Rosado in a fight where some felt Rosado did enough to earn the victory. With no fights in 2021, Jacobs now looks to resume his push towards another world title shot against John Ryder.
Much like Jacobs, Ryder, a longtime contender and former world title challenger, is coming into this fight off of two consecutive victories since his last loss, which was a challenge of then WBA Super-Middleweight world champion Callum Smith in November 2019. In his last bout in November of last year, Ryder scored a fifth round stoppage of Jozef Jurko.
While it has become cliché of this observer to say in recent times, the bout between Jacobs and Ryder is a “Crossroads Fight.” Although some might argue that a loss for either fighter at this stage in their respective careers might be what leads to possible retirement from the sport, yours truly does not necessarily see things in that context.
A reason for this is even though for the moment the ultimate end goal for just about anyone in either the 160lb. Middleweight and 168lb. Super-Middleweight divisions is to secure an opportunity to challenge Saul Alvarez for what is now an undisputed world championship in the Super-Middleweight division, which would obviously entice several top Middleweights to move up if such an opportunity is available, the Super-Middleweight division could very well be heading for a period of transition. It is indeed true that Alvarez accomplished what is for a variety of reasons very difficult to achieve in becoming an undisputed world champion and did so in an unthinkable short period of time, winning a world championship, fulfilling his mandatory title defense obligations, and going on to successfully complete the process of unifying the division in the span of one year. Having accomplished that goal however, Alvarez could well be looking to what might be his next challenge, which could take him out of the division as he might move up to perhaps attempt to duplicate his accomplishment at 168lbs. in a higher weight class.
If this does indeed prove to be what will happen, obviously, there will be plenty of room to maneuver in the Super-Middleweight division as the four world championships that comprise the Undisputed Super-Middleweight championship of the world in it’s current form will all become vacated, which will obviously open up opportunities for fighters that are in similar positions as Jacobs and Ryder. There is also the one world championship of the International Boxing Organization (IBO) that was not involved in Alvarez’ unification process, which remains active in the division so there could very well be an opportunity for Jacobs, Ryder, or several other contenders to secure an opportunity to fight for the IBO world championship as well.
In simple terms, a loss for either Jacobs or Ryder does not necessarily mean their career might be over with a plethora of opportunities most likely opening up in the near future in the division. As for what might occur when Jacobs and Ryder get in the ring to do battle, it is an interesting clash of styles.
Some may recall many years ago when he began his career that Daniel Jacobs began with a string of quick knockouts, which obviously made everyone from the Boxing fan to those like myself who cover the sport take notice. While Jacobs does still have the punching power that is capable of ending a fight at any time, as his career has evolved, he has proven to be a fighter that can do a bit of everything and should not be known strictly for his punching power. Jacobs did not necessarily look his best in his last bout against Gabriel Rosado and it will be interesting to see whether a lengthy absence from competition will lead to a better performance in this fight as he will enter this bout with a record of 37-3, with 30 Knockouts having registered a 75% career knockout percentage.
Meanwhile, John Ryder is a pressure fighter who has scored seventeen knockouts in his thirty career wins and will enter with a record of 30-5, with 17 Knockouts with a career knockout percentage just shy of 49% in his career. Although Ryder has endeared himself to many fans for always putting forth a determined effort, some might say that he has failed each time he has tried to step up against the top fighters in either the Middleweight or Super-Middleweight divisions. With another opportunity against a notable opponent in a former world champion in Jacobs, this is another chance to show that he belongs among the top Super-Middleweights in the world.
The fight plan for Ryder appears on paper to be a simple one, try to pressure Jacobs from the outset and look to implement elements of what Gabriel Rosado was able to do in Jacobs’ last fight. Obviously, this could prove to be easier said than done, but the goal for Ryder should be to prevent Jacobs from being able to find a consistent rhythm in this fight. Although Jacobs does have an edge both in terms of punching power and overall experience at or near the top of the sport, if Ryder can disrupt Jacobs’ rhythm, he could find success if he is able to extend the fight into the middle and late rounds.
It is crucial that Ryder be defensively responsible at all times in this fight as Jacobs is a skilled boxer and excellent counter puncher and if he approaches him in either an overly aggressive or reckless manner, Jacobs is the type of fighter who can and will take advantage of whatever openings are presented to him. With their being debate as to the outcome of Jacobs’ last fight at least in the eyes of some, Ryder should also be prepared for a fighter who could be looking to make a statement early and if Jacobs enters this bout with the intention of scoring a knockout, we could be in for a short, but potentially explosive fight.
Although Daniel Jacobs is likely going to be a betting favorite going into this bout, an element in which he will not have an advantage is where this bout will be taking place. London, England, where Ryder has a significant following and will likely have the crowd support come fight time as Jacobs has traveled to the United Kingdom to face Ryder on essentially his home turf. One should keep in mind that Jacobs has fought outside of the United States before, but this will be his first time fighting in front of a British Boxing crowd and the atmosphere that the Boxing fans throughout the United Kingdom provide at virtually every Boxing event that takes place in the UK is unlike anything that is seen anywhere else in the world in the sport. While Jacobs is as experienced as they come, it will nevertheless be interesting to see how fighting in front of what will likely be a partisan crowd that is most likely something that he has not been exposed to before.
Although John Ryder will obviously need more than crowd support to be successful in this fight, it can provide a boost in what is one of the more significant fights in his career. As is usually the case when it comes to bouts that are deemed “Crossroads Fights,” obviously both fighters have a lot to prove to themselves and both have the focus of pursuing bigger and better things after this encounter. While a loss for either man does not necessarily mean the end of their career, a victory will obviously open up the possibility of fighting for another world championship sooner than later. We will see what happens when Jacobs and Ryder meet on Saturday, February 12th.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Jacobs vs. Ryder takes place tomorrow (Saturday, February 12th at the Alexandra Palace in London, England. The entire card can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning with a Before the Bell portion of preliminary bouts beginning at 12:15PM ET/9:15AM PT (U.S. Times). For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices/platforms/Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
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