Londoner John Ryder (28-4) tore through his Australian opponent Bilal Akkaway (20-1-1) in three rounds at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on May 4 to win the interim WBA world super-middleweight title on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez’s middleweight unification clash with 'Miracle Man' Daniel Jacobs.
‘The Gorilla’ was due to face Canadian KO artist David Lemieux until he was hit by a hand injury so the unbeaten Aussie stepped in at late notice, but was stopped in clinical fashion after just 8 minutes and 12 seconds of ring time.
The 30-year-old southpaw, trained by Tony Sims, is the WBA No.1 and is next line to face Mexican superstar Canelo, who triumphed over Jacobs via unanimous decision in the headliner.
Ryder said post-fight, "It was a great event, I was very fortunate to be on such a great card.
"There was a lot of stuff I've been working on that I didn't get to show.
I caught him with big shot end of the first round, second round I just concentrated on winning the round, in the third round he decided to engage a bit more.
Even after the knockdown, I had to be careful because I know he can whack a bit, so I didn't go too gung-ho, I was smart on my feet."
Sydney's Akkawy, ranked No.4 with the WBA, came into the bout undefeated with a fearsome 16 KOs from 20 victories, known for his aggression and determination to come forward and finish fights early. Despite this reputation, 'The Gorilla' shone on his Las Vegas debut to win the interim title in the biggest night of his 10-year career.
Since his 2017 loss to Rocky Fielding, Ryder has put four wins together against top opposition with a combined record of 89-2-1.
His October 2018 win over Andrey Sirotkin was a WBA Final Eliminator, which means he is mandatory challenger to WBA 'Super' super-middleweight titlist Callum Smith, who defends his world title and WBC Diamond belt on the Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr undercar at MSG on June 1.
He affirmed that he wants that fight as soon as possible, but depends on the timings.
"I know he's fighting on June 1st and I think he's allowed a unification after, so it might not be until the New Year.
"I feel that I've grown into the super-middleweight division now, I feel like a fully fledged super-middleweight, as strong as an ox, carrying good power and feel I can hold my own with anyone.
"I want the big fights now. I'm just waiting patiently for my chance now."