British boxing is going through something of a purple patch. Barely a weekend seems to pass without a British fighter challenging for a world honour, title belts being unified or potential new stars emerging. And we still have Tyson Fury and Josh Warrington to look forward to before Christmas.
When the dust has settled, Saturday’s super middleweight fight between Zach Parker and John Ryder may just end up as the pick of this bumper period. For the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
The clash will be a battle between potential and experience. Of power against ruggedness and of slick, smart boxing against educated pressure. If that isn’t enough, there are serious world title implications at stake. Parker was scheduled to fight the accomplished but tricky Demetrious Andrade for months. But the American’s second withdrawal led the unbeaten Derby man into this fan-friendly, all-British showdown.
The fight is the standout match-up from an action packed weekend of boxing and it seems highly unlikely to disappoint.
“We were expecting Zach to come up against Demetrius Andrade. But with Andrade having pulled out for the second time, now it gives us a bigger domestic clash against the no.2 contender, Ryder. The winner will be the mandatory for when Canelo Alvarez is forced back into action at super middleweight, or elects to vacate his belts,” show promoter Frank Warren said when the fight was announced.
“What I like about Zach is he’s got a lot of confidence”
Parker has slowly but surely emerged as the dark horse of Britain’s super middleweight division. He was quietly guided to the top of the WBO rankings by his manager, Neil Marsh, and then unleashed onto BT Sport. A two round demolition job of the decent Vaughan Alexander opened plenty of eyes and he has followed that up by blowing Sherzod Khusanov away in a round and taking Marcus Morrison apart in four.
“What I like about Zach is that he’s got a lot of confidence. He shapes up really well and he’s not just a banger, he can box too.
“I like that he’s very professional. His manager, Neil Marsh, does a very good job with his lads and Zach does his bit. I just think he’s got something a little bit special about him. He’s a very hurtful puncher,” Warren told 32Red exclusively.
It is one thing looking the part against fighters like Alexander and Morrison. But the respected Ryder will undoubtedly pose Parker some serious questions on Saturday night. After pushing himself through a flat spot in his career, Ryder has established himself as a genuine, world class super middleweight. He pushed former unified champion, Callum Smith, to the brink three years ago and scored a career best victory when he squeezed past the Daniel Jacobs in February. It is a sign of the confidence Warren has in Parker that he pursued a difficult fight with the Londoner with so much on the line.
“A win will prove that Zach is world class”
“This fight is gonna be the telling fight for him. There’s a lot of risk to it,” Warren said. “Whoever wins this fight – whether it’s him or Ryder – they’ll be the mandatory for the WBO title. Canelo’s either gonna fight them, they’re gonna get a massive payday and I think Canelo’s there to be taken at the moment or he’ll vacate the belt and the winner will become the world champion. This a tremendous opportunity for both fighters.
“I just feel that Zach needs stepping up. Ryder is a real decent test and will give him a lot to think about. It’ll be a good gauge where he’s at.
“A win will prove that Zach is world class and it’s Ryder’s last roll of the dice. I know he’s training very hard and they’ll fancy the job. I think it’s gonna be a really good fight and I’m looking forward to it.”
The undercard at the O2 Arena is a who’s who of Queensbury’s rising talent. Dennis ‘The Menace’ McCann recently called out British and European super bantamweight champion, Liam Davies, but will need to keep his focus on Joe Ham if he is to claim the Commonwealth belt. Heavy-handed Pierce O’Leary will be hoping to once again live up to his ‘Big Bang’ nickname when he fights Namibia’s Emmanuel Mungandjela.
“This is the sort of examination Hamzah needs”
The most intriguing match up on the undercard might well be Hamzah Sheeraz’s clash with two-time English title challenger River Wilson-Bent. Sheeraz has looked outstanding in 2022 and will be looking for a third straight early night. But Wilson-Bent is talented, determined and still full of ambition. His two close fights with Tyler Denny look pretty good following Denny’s impressive victory over unbeaten Brad Rea a few weeks ago. Undefeated Sheeraz is riding high in the WBO middleweight rankings and will want to mover closer to a world title shot next year.
“We explored a number of options when it came to choosing an opponent for Hamzah. He is still pretty new to the weight division, with having just two fights at 160lbs. So we determined that a tough domestic test will serve him best at this stage,” said Warren.
“River has fought on one of our Birmingham shows previously, so we know his quality. He’ll view this as a breakthrough opportunity and will give it his absolute everything.
“This is the sort of examination Hamzah needs; I feel certain it will be a competitive and entertaining fight on what’s already an exciting card. Having the Commonwealth title on the line is a big bonus and the winner will be firmly in line for a shot at the British title.
“This is going to be some night of boxing! We’ve now got four major domestic title fights on the bill, with all of them near enough even-money. This is a show tailor-made for British fight fans.”