John Ryder says he is not bitter about his defeat to Callum Smith in 2019, but says that those feelings might come back one days if he does not lift a world title one day. 

Ryder faces Daniel Jacobs at Alexandra Palace in North London on February 12 in a super-middleweight bout. 

The 33-year-old’s one world title challenge came for that belt in 2019 against Smith in Liverpool when, as a big outsider, he lost a unanimous points decision after a bout that many thought he dominated. 

“I’ve always said I am not bitter about it, because I believe I will achieve my dream and become a world champion,” Ryder said. “But if I go through my career and don’t achieve that, then I suppose the bitterness will creep in. 

“But it wasn’t down to Callum that night. There were three judges who saw it the way they saw it. I don’t agree with their decision, but their decision was final.” 

Ryder has spent much of the last year waiting for an opportunity, having been mentioned as a likely opponent for David Morrell Jr – the WBA regular champion – and Dmitry Bivol, the WBA light-heavyweight champion. 

A fight with Jacobs came as a but of a surprise, though, although both will be keen for a world title shot if the undisputed champion, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez moves up in weight at the belts break up. The fight with Jacobs could be recognized as a WBA final eliminator. 

“The Morrell fight was due to happen in June,” said Ryder, who last boxed when. “Eddie (Hearn) got me out to America for the Canelo v Billy Joe fight to get around a few of the American press, we flew back from Dallas and a week later we saw that he was fighting someone else in a voluntary defense.  

“We had already skipped on a European title fight, that fell through, so I was in no man’s land. Then they called purse bids and, in the meantime, I became mandatory for the European again and there was talk of the Bivol fight. 

“We were trying to keep all the irons in the fire, but sooner or later you think it is all going to come round, but in the end it all collapsed, and we got none of them.” 

Talks took place for the Bivol fight, but Ryder was not keen to travel to Russia for it. 

“They wanted to do it in Russia in December and I really didn’t want to go to Russia, I didn’t think we would get a fair crack,” Ryder said. 

“You can get robbed in your own town, you don’t need to go over the water to get robbed somewhere else.” 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.