Saul “Canelo” Alvarez returns to the ring this Saturday, May 6 at Estadio Akron in Guadalajara, Mexico to defend his four super middleweight belts against the UK’s John Ryder. This homecoming gala will be Alvarez’s first fight in Mexico since November of 2011 and his first in his hometown Guadalajara area since June of 2011.
The 32-year-old Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) is coming off, perhaps, the toughest year of his career, losing decisively to Dmitry Bivol in a bid to win Bivol’s WBA light heavyweight title last May 7 and then taking a tepid, fairly lackluster unanimous decision against Gennadiy Golovkin in their third meeting, a bout in which Alvarez was expected to steamroll a fading, past-prime Golovkin. “Canelo” would end the year needing surgery on his left wrist.
Ironically enough, though, the bad 2022 came after an outstanding 11-month run that saw him notch four dominant victories (versus Callum Smith, Avni Yildirim, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant) en route to unifying all four world title belts in the super middleweight division.
Overall, Alvarez’s resume is among the deepest in the sport, with high-profile wins over the likes of Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, Shane Mosley, Gennadiy Golovkin, Miguel Cotto, Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, and Caleb Plant (among others). He also came up short in a blockbuster contest with Floyd Mayweather back in 2013.
The 34-year-old Ryder, meanwhile, sports a much more modest record at 32-5, with 18 KOs. His body of work is also significantly thinner than that of his Mexican rival. Although sporting several setbacks in his career– two against former Canelo foes, Billy Joe Saunders and Rocky Fielding– the London native is riding a significant wave of career momentum, with a victory over Daniel Jacobs back in February of 2022 and controversial unanimous decision loss to Callum Smith in 2019 that many felt should’ve been scored a victory.
There’s no way around it– Ryder is a major underdog coming into this bout. Alvarez will walk into Estadio Akron as a -1600 betting favorite, while Ryder enters as a +800 underdog.
Ryder is a good, solid southpaw who has earned a reputation as a tenacious competitor.
However, he’s also fairly heavy-footed and predictable in the ring. Simply put, he’s at least a level or two below Alvarez’s class.
Alvarez has proven himself to be one of the pound-for-pound very best in the game and has been able to master a ring style that mixes equal parts Mexican battler with learned style and slickness.
On paper, there’s no match.
However, Alvarez is coming off wrist surgery and, also, coming off a bad year that saw him turn in two flat performances. Against Bivol, specifically, he had no answers for the Russian’s long, measured offense. By the end of the contest, he looked tired and almost resigned to defeat. Against Golovkin, he appeared tentative and content with a close points win.
The flat showings could’ve been due to injury and/or unfavorable styles matchups. They also could’ve been due to a wavering interest in boxing. It wouldn’t be unheard of for a fighter who becomes incredibly rich and famous to lose his competitive edge. These days, Alvarez talks more and more about a life in golf and about his creature comforts and less and less about boxing. It’s definitely possible that the fire isn’t burning as bright in Canelo anymore, something which would make him vulnerable, despite sporting an edge in skill and experience.
Whatever the case, Ryder is game and he’ll keep coming for as long as he can.
But even against a distracted and/or partially-interested Alvarez, he probably won’t have enough to come close to the Mexican, especially with Alvarez fighting at home and with 50,000+ fans screaming for their hometown/home country hero.
Expect Ryder to fight hard, but to be gradually disassembled by a Saul Alvarez who manages to muster enough fire in front of the Mexican fans to put on a classic Canelo-style performance and win via stoppage somewhere between the seventh and the ninth rounds.