John Ryder has decided to call it a career.
The 35-year-old British southpaw confirmed his retirement on Tuesday, after more than 14 years in the pro ranks. The realization came less than two weeks after his most recent bout that it was time to begin the next chapter.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have come to the decision to hang up my gloves and retire from professional boxing,” Ryder announced in a statement published on his and Matchroom Boxing’s social media channels. “I’ve been absolutely blessed to have the most amazing career over the past 14 years. Starting in Bethnal Green in 2010 and ending in Phoenix, Arizona. I've been lucky enough to box everywhere from The O2 Arena, T-Mobile [Arena] in [Las] Vegas, Alexandra Palace, Manchester Arena to Guadalajara in Mexico.
“For a boy from Islington, it's been some run.”
Ryder ends his career with a record of 32-7, with 18KOs and two separate interim super middleweight title reigns. ‘The Gorilla’ last fought on January 27, when he was stopped inside of nine rounds by Jaime Munguia (43-0, 34KOs) atop a DAZN show from Footprint Center in Phoenix. The loss was his second in a row, which emphasized the point that he’d achieved all that he would in his well-respected career.
The beloved figure from the Islington section of London saw modest success in a limited amateur career. Ryder boasted a 30-5 record while representing the Angel Amateur Boxing Club in his Islington hometown before he turned pro in September 2010.
Ryder remained perfect through fifteen fights before he dropped a narrow decision to the more polished Billy Joe Saunders in their September 2013 battle of unbeaten prospects. He would remain at the U.K. domestic level, at times falling just short of the world level and on other occasions punching his way into contention.
The latter came into play in 2019, which marked his U.S. debut and first world title shot in back-to-back fights
Ryder claimed the interim WBA super middleweight title with a stunning third-round knockout of unbeaten Bilal Akkawy. The May 2019 win came on the undercard of the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs middleweight championship unification bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and would set up his first major title fight.
That night would end in heartbreak but also saw Ryder elevate his cult status as an overachiever. He was considered by many to have been unlucky in a disputed twelve-round unanimous decision to Callum Smith in their November 2019 WBA super middleweight title consolidation bout in Smith’s hometown of Liverpool, England.
The pandemic slowed down his progress before Ryder returned with four wins, including the two biggest which came in back-to-back fights in 2022.
Ryder earned a twelve-round, split decision win over Jacobs in their February 2022 WBA title eliminator at the famed ‘Ally Pally’ (Alexandra Palace) in London.
It was a rare occasion where a toss-up verdict would land in his favor, and also set up his next interim title opportunity. Unbeaten countryman Zach Parker was already in line to challenge for the interim WBO super middleweight title, a fight which Ryder accepted the moment it was made available.
Their all-UK November 2022 clash saw Ryder overcome a slow start to rally in round four. It would prove to be enough, though by default as Parker was forced to quit after he suffered a broken right hand.
The win paved the way for the sport’s ultimate prize for anyone in and around the super middleweight division—a shot at Canelo.
Ryder became the mandatory to the full WBO title held by Alvarez, the reigning undisputed champion who agreed to a title consolidation bout last May in Zapopan, just outside his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. Ryder was floored in round five but lauded for the bravery exuded in a fight that went the full twelve-round distance. Alvarez won by unanimous decision, though Ryder once again saw his stock rise in defeat.
Such was not the case earlier this year versus Tijuana’s Munguia, the former WBO 154-pound titlist and current top-rated super middleweight contender. Matchroom chairman Eddie Hearn admitted prior to the fight that it was a must-win situation for Ryder in the twilight of his career and that retirement would have to be considered if he fell short.
Munguia made that decision a little easier after what many considered a career-best performance to date. Ryder was first dropped in round two, a sign of things to come despite enjoying brief middle-round success. Munguia quickly caught his second win and emphatically closed the show.
It ultimately pulled the curtain on Ryder’s years-long valiant run in the sport.
“Although I didn't manage to win that World Title, I've achieved and experienced more than I could ever have imagined when I first put on a pair of boxing gloves,” noted Ryder. “I wouldn't change that for any belt.
“I'd like to thank the whole team and Matchroom, especially Eddie, Barry and Frank [Smith, Matchroom CEO]. My trainer and manager Tony and Charlie Sims and my [strength & conditioning] coach Dan Lawrence for their constant support. And of course, my loving family. My partner Nancy, kids Heidi and Brody, who have given me the strongest 'why' possible over the past decade in this sport. I'm blessed to have you all in my corner.”
Despite his timely exit from the ring, Ryder plans to remain intimately involved in a sport that’s been a part of his entire adult life.
“Finally, although my professional career as a boxer is now over, the sport won't be able to get rid of me that easily,” declared Ryder. “I look forward to officially starting my new career as a coach working alongside Tony at the Matchroom Gym very shortly. There's no place like home.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox