Parker vs Ryder – Three reasons you can’t miss it on BT Sport

Zach Parker takes on domestic rival John Ryder for the interim WBO super-middleweight world title this Saturday night, exclusively live on BT Sport. Here’s why you can’t miss it.

By George Mills Published: 26 November 2022 - 10.41am

Zach Parker headlines a brilliant night of boxing in the British capital on Saturday night as he takes on John Ryder for the interim WBO super-middleweight championship, exclusively live on BT Sport.

The man from Derby will be looking to cap his blazing ascent through the 168lb division with success on his maiden attempt at a version of the world title.

However, he'll need to be on top form against a skilled veteran like Ryder with the Islington man having been there, done that and got the t-shirt at the highest level over the past few years.

It all goes down exclusively live from 7pm on BT Sport 1HD - click here to find out all the ways you can watch along across the BT Sport network.

There’s so much in store during an evening of top-class entertainment from the British capital, so read on for our preview of the main talking points ahead of Zach Parker vs John Ryder this weekend.

Don't miss Parker vs Ryder

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Is Parker the real deal?

Parker has been one of British boxing’s best-kept secrets for a little while now, flying under the radar among the next crop of potential world champions aiming to write their name into boxing folklore.

However, the hype has slowly been building behind the man from Derby ever since joining Frank Warren’s Queensberry stable in February last year, with Parker putting together an explosive run of stoppage victories to manoeuvre himself into world-title contention.

Brutal knockout wins against Vaughn Alexander, Sherzod Khusanov and Marcus Morrison - three men who had not previously been stopped – have certainly made many begin to sit up and take notice of the hard-hitting 28-year-old.

This weekend, Parker can truly announce himself and step out into the limelight on the biggest night of his career as he challenges for a world title against the biggest name he has faced so far, Londoner Ryder.

Ryder has previously held the WBA interim super-middleweight world title and went close to upsetting Callum Smith for the full world title in 2019 only to be denied by the scorecards in what many feel was a harsh reflection of Ryder’s performance.

“He [Ryder] has been in there with the best so I’ve just got to go out and do a number on him and then I will have arrived on the world scene,” Parker told Queensberry’s Dev Sahni last month.

“I think he is just a bit too small for super middleweight”
- Zach Parker

“It is going to be a good fight. At least he’s got the balls to come and fight me, unlike [Demetrius] Andrade. He always brings it, so if we both do that and meet in the middle, it will be one for the fans.

“I have kept an eye out for him, although obviously he was at middleweight, but now he has come up with a good few wins and had a close one with Callum Smith.

“I thought we might meet down the line and here we are. Frank is the man who has made it happen and I can’t wait for fight night now.

“That he has done this for me is a sign of the trust we have. I trust Frank and he trusts me. We were going to have the Andrade fight in Derby, but the season has started now, so we will have a good night for the fans at the O2 and may the best man win.

“It should be a good fight, but I reckon I will get a stoppage over Ryder. I think he is just a bit too small for super middleweight. He has boxed some, but they have taken him lightly, thinking they are gonna beat him easily.”

The interim world championship will not be the only prize both fighters have in mind this weekend amid rumours the winner could be set for a lucrative showdown against Canelo Alvarez early next year.

Canelo bounced back from defeat to Dmitry Bivol with a routine win over Gennady Golovkin to settle their long-running rivalry in the third and final fight of their trilogy last time out, but the Mexican superstar will reportedly be keeping a close eye on proceedings at the O2 on Saturday night as he looks to identify his next challenge in the super-middleweight division.

Both Parker and Ryder know a showdown with Canelo guarantees one of the biggest purses in boxing, so expect to see the two warriors lay it all on the line this Saturday night.

Will Sheeraz steal the shine?

Hamzah Sheeraz is fast living up to his billing as one of the brightest young prospects in British boxing.

The 23-year-old from Slough was awarded the prestigious Boxing Writers’ Club Young Boxer of The Year last year, following in the footsteps of some of the sport’s most iconic names.

Nigel Benn, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan and George Groves are just a few of the names to have taken home the same award in times gone by, and Sheeraz will be hoping he can prove he is on the same path to greatness as some of those iconic names as he faces tough competition this weekend.

A towering middleweight standing at 6ft 3ins, Sheeraz has the sheer physical prowess to dominate within the 165lb division; he uses his long levers to devastating effect more often than not too, picking up 12 of his 16 wins inside the distance.

On Saturday night, he challenges Coventry’s River Wilson-Bent for the vacant Commonwealth middleweight title, also putting his WBC silver middleweight title at the O2.

Wilson-Bent has been beaten only once in 15 professional contests and has six stoppages to his name, the most recent of which came during a professional win over journeyman Ben Thomas in September.

That victory saw Wilson-Bent bounce back at the first time of asking from his only career defeat to date, which came during a valiant and hard-fought challenge for the British middleweight title back in June against Tyler Denny. 

A split decision defeat on the scorecards saw the 28-year-old come up narrowly short on what was the biggest night of his career to that point – but Wilson-Bent will be fired up to prove he belongs at the top level as he features in this cracking contest serving as chief support to a world title fight.

“This is the sort of examination Hamzah needs”
- Frank Warren

"This is the sort of examination Hamzah needs and I feel certain it will be a competitive and entertaining fight on what is already an exciting card,” Queensberry boss Frank Warren said.

"We explored a number of options when it came to choosing an opponent for Hamzah. He is still pretty new to the weight division, with having just two fights at 160lbs, so we determined that a tough domestic test will serve him best at this stage.

"River has fought on one of our Birmingham shows previously, so we know his quality and also know that he will view this as a breakthrough opportunity and will give it his absolute everything.”

Can Sheeraz produce another show-stopping performance to steal the limelight in London?

Dennis the Menace returns

Another young hot prospect features prominently on a brilliant bill this weekend as Dennis McCann challenges for the vacant Commonwealth super-bantamweight title against Scotland’s Joe Ham.

McCann is the latest rising star of the Traveller community and has long been tipped to reach the very top of the sport.

The 21-year-old is undefeated in his 13 professional contests to date with a canny knack of finding the finish, picking up 7 KOs along the way.

Never one to shy away from the fighting talk, McCann believes he is ready to show that he has the power to trouble any man in the division by making an example out of the challenger Ham on Saturday.

"He is an ex-Team GB fighter and has boxed all around the world, but he hasn't met Dennis the Menace yet or fought anyone like me," insisted the super-slick southpaw.

"When he feels the power he is not going to like it, trust me.

"I feel I am punching a lot harder, my manpower is starting to come now. I am wobbling people, hurting people and breaking people down. And I am finding it hard to get sparring partners because of it!"