Londoner John Ryder (27-4) knows a victory in Las Vegas on Saturday night - May 4 - could lead to the biggest fight of his career against either WBC, WBA 'Super' and IBF world middleweight champion Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez or fellow Brit Callum Smith.
The Islington puncher tackles hardened Aussie Bilal Akkaway (20-0-1) for the interim WBA world super-middleweight title at the T-Mobile Arena 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.
The call to receive the news of Lemieux's withdrawal came just 24 hours from boarding a plane to L.A. to finish off his training camp. Fortunately, Ryder's team found a replacement opponent in no time at all for the WBA No.1.
Now focused on Akkawy, the 30-year-old southpaw trained by Tony Sims is more than ready for the new challenge standing in front of him on the 124th day of the year.
Sydney's Akkawy has a fearsome 16 KOs from 20 victories and is known for his aggression and determination to come forward and finish fights early. The warring pair are expected to meet in the middle in what should be an epic super-middleweight battle on the biggest boxing stage in the world.
Akkawy’s best win came against Giovanni De Carolis in February 2018 to win the WBA Oceania super-middleweight belt, which gained him his current No.4 position in the World Boxing Association standings.
The 25-year-old 'Straya' is known for his power and swings wildly from distance. He has been known to ice opponents out cold with the one power punch, but those victims haven't been near the same level as his forthcoming foe. When he swipes recklessly with his long hooks, his chin is there to be hit and someone with Ryder's skill and intellect should take advantage of such a defensive error.
The Australian believes that the Englishman and his team have underestimated him and that will play into his hands.
Contrary to that credence, Ryder has confirmed that he’s rigorously researched his forthcoming foe and will enter the ring with a game plan A, B and C.
If he gets those tactics right then his next fight could be against pound-for-pound superstar Canelo, who headlines the event Ryder appears on.
There's still talk of a third fight with Gennady Golovkin later in the year, but Ryder will be first in line to face the Mexican until then.
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.
The big fights are in touching distance for the stylish southpaw but he has to overcome the adamantine Aussie first.