Nick Blackwell stuns John Ryder to claim British belt at third attempt

Nick Blackwell stuns John Ryder to claim British belt at third attempt

By Dewi Powell: It was a case of third time lucky for Nick Blackwell (17-3-1, 7KO) who captured the British title with a stunning seventh round knockout of John Ryder (21-2, 12KO).

The 24-year-old from Trowbridge in Wiltshire had previously challenged for the 160lbs version of the Lord Lonsdale belt on two occasions, losing out to world title contenders Martin Murray and Billy Joe Saunders in respectable outings.

In the last two months of preparation, Blackwell had relocated to Cardiff and joined Gary Lockett’s stable, the former middleweight who challenged for WBC and WBO world titles during his distinguished career.

The scene at the O2 Arena was familiar scenery for Ryder, a native of North London, and he looked right at home in the early rounds – it was his third consecutive outing at the venue. Blackwell’s no stranger to appearing in the away corner, having been on the unfortunate end of controversial decisions to Max Bursak in 2013 and Sergey Khomitsky in 2014, ending in a loss and draw respectively.

Straight away, the middleweights met head-on and it caused a cut above Blackwell’s right eye. It was unclear what caused the gash but it’s likely to have been an accidental head clash as both bullishly stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Although Blackwell appeared unfazed, it wasn’t helped when more blood came from his nose.

After Ryder’s sharp and strong start, the pair took it in turns to apply pressure in rounds three and four. Their enthusiasm again led to head clashes and it was Ryder’s time to come off worse as a cut opened below his right eye. Again, referee Howard Foster didn’t state whether it came from a head clash. With the blood flow momentarily stemmed, Ryder and Blackwell settled down at the halfway mark, circling each other before stepping in with powerful straight shots.

There were short hooks when they claim up close, but their quality came from range and behind precise jabs. The bout’s first counterpunching of note came in the seventh round and it prompted enthusiastic claps from Blackwell’s corner, which included Commonwealth light-middleweight champion Liam Williams.

Seconds later, the breakthrough would come. That subtle change in tactics proved to be the difference for Blackwell, who rocked Ryder badly with a right hand. The southpaw, trained by Tony Sims in Essex, was visibly rocked and he stumbled to the ropes, where Blackwell continued to sustain a two fisted attack.

With Ryder’s hands at his sides and numerous unanswered punches raining in, the referee was forced to intervene and it prompted wild celebrations. In disbelief, Blackwell ran around the ring before collapsing on the canvas, elated and lifted to his feet as champion.

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