Billy Joe Saunders Edges Decision in Barnstorming Bout with Ryder
By Peter Wells
For Billy Joe Saunders the pressure coming into last night’s fight was heavy, and so were the fists of John Ryder as Saunders duly discovered throughout the contest, no more so than in the 7th round. Subsequently Saunders stuck to his boxing, taking over the contest for a close but unanimous decision victory.
Saunders past by far his toughest test to date but credit Ryder who certainly came to the Copper Box Arena to win. The underdog closed the gap extremely well, leaving the champion with little option but to exchange blows. By the fights end Saunders really did know he had been in a fight.
For myself the British and Commonwealth Middleweight champion won the opening two rounds, high on his toes early, he ensured that movement was key to avoiding what the aggressor brought. In the 3rd and 4th Ryder closed the gap between the two, leaving Saunders unable to work so effectively off his long nippy shots.
The 5th and 6th rounds were again close; I scored a round apiece, leaving the fight all-square at the halfway mark. Heading into the second half of the contest one fighter needed to take a full grip of the fight.
That man looked to be Ryder when he caught Saunders with a terrifically timed right hand. The blow stunned Saunders momentarily and the challenger tried hard to capitalise. While Saunders was never in serious trouble it was a crucial round to survive, afterwards he managed to find a second wind, taking over the contest over the final 5 rounds.
While Ryder still pressured, Saunders looked far more contented than he had all night. The judges’ cards did the fight justice; all three were marginally in favour of Saunders, 115-114 & 115-113 twice. Saunders improved to 19-0(10) while Ryder dropped to 15-1(9).
In a jam-packed undercard Derek Chisora came into the ring full of emotion after the recent loss of Dean Powell, who was very close to Chisora and his team. Edmund Gerber was to be the victim of ‘Del Boy’s’ heartfelt tribute.
Coming into the contest in the best shape of his career, Chisora showed more improvements as he refused Gerber a second to breathe. Slamming in hooks to the body finally took their toll on the German resident. Chisora took a solid punch himself but used all his experience to starve off any charge from Gerber, at the same time Gerber didn’t show a killer instinct, instead just following the Brit around the ring, not pouncing on the opportunity.
In the end he paid the price when Chisora jumped on him stopping the tough but limited Gerber in the 5th. Chisora is now 18-4(12) while Gerber’s record now stands at 23-2(14).
Frankie Gavin and David Barnes came in as two southpaw counter punchers and fought that way all night. Neither taking charge of the contest leading to a dull and uneventful bout. I scored the fight clearly in favour of Gavin, while scoring several rounds 10-10. Both will feature in better fights but last night their styles just did not go together. Gavin won on the cards and moves to 17-0(12) while Barnes at 32 seems to have found his level as he drops to 27-3-2(11).
Paul Butler v Miguel Gonzalez also never came to life, Butler taking the front foot throughout but was being made to miss for much of the contest by the brilliant defence of Gonzalez. The Chilean though neglected his offense leaving Butler to nick most of the rounds on sheer work rate alone. Butler was awarded a unanimous decision win but could have been made to pay had Gonzalez added aggression to his game. Butler improves to 13-0(7) while Gonzalez suffers his first career defeat dropping to 17-1(5).
To conclude a night of high quality 12 rounder’s was arguably the best of the lot. Liam Walsh squeaked home via a majority decision victory over the previously undefeated Joe Murray.
Murray boxed wonderfully for the first 6 rounds but as he began to slow down Walsh found it easier to close the gap, hurting the Manchester fighter several times to the body or with uppercuts to the jaw. Murray dug deep trying so hard to engineer a punch that would slow Walsh down. In a close and thoroughly entertaining contest where the two fighters styles and work rates gelled beautifully, Walsh took the win 116-112, 116-113 and 114-114. Walsh advances to 15-0(10) while Murray falls to 14-1(5).
After a wonderful night of boxing Britain’s next stars continue to sparkle, there were fights we’d love to see again there were some we’d rather forget about but overall last night was a good night for boxing and a perfect homage to the man who made it all happen, Dean Powell.
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