IN the second defence of his WBA super-middleweight title, Callum Smith was awarded a unanimous decision over Matchroom Boxing stablemate John Ryder at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. The overly wide scores, however, did not accurately reflect the part Ryder played in a closely contested encounter.
Despite his significant disadvantages in both height and reach, Islington southpaw Ryder – a big underdog – began positively in the opener, harassing Smith at times and getting beneath his lengthy jab. The in-form mandatory challenger scored with a shooting jab of his own in the second, as Smith struggled to find his rhythm against his shorter rival.
Ryder had little trouble closing the gap again in round three, though Smith’s accuracy and work rate improved noticeably in the session. The champion was pushed back to the ropes in the fourth, with Ryder digging in some decent body shots. However, Smith also zoned in on the midriff himself during the stanza. Both boxers walked back to their corners sporting some facial damage, with blood dribbling down each of their right eyes.