Callum Smith secures unanimous points win against dogged John Ryder

Callum Smith (left) and John Ryder
Callum Smith (left) and John Ryder

Callum Smith retain his world super-middleweight title with a unanimous points victory over a dogged John Ryder in Liverpool.

Smith, defending his unbeaten record as a professional, was adjudged to have dominated the opening rounds before Ryder closed the distance between them and the gap on the scorecards late on.

TV pundits largely gave Smith the edge, despite his bloodied face come the end of 12 bruising rounds, but there was a general feeling that the judges had failed to do justice to Ryder's contribution.

"I didn't underestimate John, I knew he was a tough fighter," said Smith. "It wasn't the best performance, but I thought I won most of the early rounds.

"I think I was due a bad one - first time getting a cut in a fight, and I'll be a better fighter because of it. I want a big name where if I turn up like tonight, I'll lose."

Ryder felt as though he'd done enough to cause an almighty upset on Smith's turf, and was certainly the aggressor towards the end of the bout.

"I've gone in against the world number one, feel like I just edged it. I do deserve to come again," said Ryder.

"He's a great fighter, but I live and breathe this sport. We've not had the rub of the green lately, but that's just boxing.

"I feel (the scoring) was harsh. I felt like I did enough to win that. I think I've done more than enough to show that I'm credible for this."

Promoter Eddie Hearn praised both men at the end of an engrossing duel, before promising bigger and better things for Smith.

"I thought it was a great fight - I thought Callum Smith dug in, I thought John Ryder was exceptional.

"Now Callum moves on to take these mega fights. Sometimes when you don't put in a blistering performance, it's a lot easier to make fights. All of a sudden the phone starts ringing. Now, after a solid performance, you'd be surprised.

"It's true - people start looking and saying 'maybe he's not as untouchable as we thought'. I really feel now, after two defences, he needs to be taking those big, legacy, career-defining fights."

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