Saunders vs Ryder: British Champ Edges Middleweight Clash, But Ryder Can Smash The Rematch

And Leaner Meaner Chisora also triumphs in his match...
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And Leaner Meaner Chisora also triumphs in his match...

As was the case in May of 2011, when undefeated duo George Groves and James DeGale squared off, Saturday night the British boxing fraternity were treated to a hotly disputed, real “pick'em” affair when Billy Joe Saunders defended his prized British middleweight crown against Islington's own, John “the Gorilla” Ryder. Like Groves vs. DeGale, both fighters entered the ring without a blemish on their perfect records, with aspirations of breaking through the cusp of British level- to European and world honours alike.

Perhaps it was almost fitting, that again, like the aforementioned bout, we were treated to an extremely close fight with either man staking a good case for victory at the end of the 12 rounds.

It was Ryder who took the early initiative, taking the fight to Saunders and having success pushing his man back- parrying many of the champions' shots off his shoulders.

As the fight progressed it evolved more into a cat and mouse affair, with Saunders boxing off the back foot and Ryder continuing to stalk the Hertfordshire man, stunning Saunders with a counter left hand in the sevnenth.

With Ryder ahead on most scorecards at ringside, it was apparent Saunders needed to take the fight by the scruff of the neck if he intended on defending the title he holds so dear to his heart- and that he did. Triumphing in the championship rounds, racking up points on the outside while the challengers punch output dipped significantly, taking it to the wire.

Much to the disappointment of Ryder and his corner, Billy Joe was awarded the verdict via unanimous decision, with scores of 115-114, and 115-113 (twice).

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Round-by-round breakdown:

Round 1: Both fighters come out exercising stiff jabs, trying to hold the centre of the ring. Cagey round.

 Saunders 9-10 Ryder

Round 2: Champion and challenger both setting a very fast pace. Ryder establishes himself as the aggressor, with Saunders using lateral movement. Billy Joe does a good job of effectively avoiding Ryder's jab- and landing his own.

Saunders 10-9 Ryder

Round 3: Ryder seems to have upped his work rate here in round 3, doing a good job of smothering Saunders' shots on the inside while dictating the pace of the fight.

Saunders 9-10 Ryder

Round 4: The challenger Ryder is looking more and more comfortable in there as the rounds go on, as he begins to find his range, touching Saunders with the left hand. Ryder continues to push the champion back, as the expression on Saunders' face suggests he's surprised at his opponents strength. You can tell why Ryder's alias is “The Gorilla”!

Saunders 9-10 Ryder

Round 5: Saunders gets his man onto the ropes and flurries- exciting the crowd, but Ryder's defence is good, slipping most of the shots. However his punch output drops significantly, allowing Saunders' activity to take the round.

Saunders 10-9 Ryder

Round 6: Ryder looking classy as he slips and parries Saunders attack. At the half way point in the fight it looks as if Ryder has tamed Billy Joe.

Saunders 9-10 Ryder

Round 7: Good action. Ryder lands the best punch of the fight- a counter left hand the forces Saunders to retreat to the ropes. He definitely felt the challengers power there! Saunders' pride sees him fight his way off the ropes. The two exchange a fierce stare as the bell sounds for the end of the round.

Saunders 9-10 Ryder

Round 8: It becomes increasingly apparent as the fight matures, that Ryder can walk through Billy Joe's punches, while Saunders continues to stay on the back foot, picking his opportunities- not wanting to stand in front of the challenger for too long. Even round.

Saunders 10-10 Ryder

Round 9: Saunders gets off first against the aggressor, Ryder, keeping him at range. A well needed round under his belt for the champion.

Saunders 10-9 Ryder

Round 10: Ryder beginning to fall into the trap of applying ineffective pressure- his punch output drops as Billy Joe out-boxes the Islington native. Stick, move, tie-up. The champions best round yet.

Saunders 10-9 Ryder

Round 11: Saunders staging a mini come back here. Getting off first, not giving the challenger a chance to reply with lateral movement. Billy having success with straighter shots down the barrel, often landing flush on Ryder, who just isn't letting his hands go like he was earlier in the fight.

Saunders 10-9 Ryder

Round 12: Scrappy round, with both men making an effort to catch the judges eye late on. As the bell sounds, Ryder valiantly leaps onto the ropes, Saunders with his hands in the air- both men think they've done enough, as we go to the judges scorecards.

Saunders 9-10 Ryder

Bradley Pearson's Final Scorecard: Saunders 114-115 Ryder

Ryder has viable reason to feel short changed for his efforts. He landed the more eye catching shots and maintained a tight defence throughout the affair- frustrating the champion at times. Saunders will argue his consistent activity, and clearly winning the championship rounds, gave him the edge. Very close fight; not a robbery by any means. Even in defeat, John Ryder enhances his status with a good performance. Rematch? Yes please.

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Britain's notorious and always controversial Dereck Chisora shined in the co-feature bout with a 5th round stoppage of Edmund Gerber to capture the European heavyweight crown, the same title he was robbed of in his highly disputed “loss” to Robert Helenius 2 years ago.

Trying hard to put his bad boy image to bed, Chisora was almost unrecognisable Saturday night, entering the ring with a leaner, trimmer mid-section than ever before.

The Finchley man set the early pace in round 1, pushing Gerber back. The German replied with some good counter uppercuts up the middle, but did little to discourage Chisora as he continued his assault.

Chisora dedicated an entire round to strictly body work in the second, as he buried his head in the chest of his opponent, digging away at some brutal body shots. Seemingly having a visible effect on Gerber, his mid-section now completely red from the pounding at this point.

Chisora drew blood from his man in the third. Gerber bleeding from the nose as he resorts to holding his man for the first time. Yet a round later, completely out of the blue, Chisora walks into a huge right hand that wobbles him significantly, and backs off for the remainder of the round. The bell for the end of round 4 coudn't have come soon enough for 'Del Boy'.

Dereck appears to of recovered from the monster of a right hand he received earlier, and gets straight back to the gameplan; forcing Gerber into retreat. Chisora traps his Gerber into his own corner, and a flurry of punches sees the German's legs leg. The referee steps in, waving off the fight as Chisora becomes the new European champion.

In a real throwback, phone-booth fight, Chisora adds his third consecutive stoppage victory since his defeat last year to David Haye; launching himself right back into the mix to challenge for world honours.

The first big boxing event at London's Copper Box Arena since the Olympic Games, Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions held host to a solid night of boxing, with competitive fights from top of the bill to bottom. Also in action was Britain's first ever world amateur champion Frankie Gavin, successfully defending his British & Commonwealth welterweight titles against the spirited David Barnes. Liam Walsh looked impressive in beating undefeated Joe Murray, as well as talented prospects Paul Butler and Frank Buglioni adding another win to their unblemished records.

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