John Ryder beat Zach Parker to claim the interim WBO super middleweight title – and move closer to a fight with Mexican legend Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
After a thrilling four-round opener in London, Parker pulled out of the fight early in the fifth round, citing a right hand injury.
It was Parker’s first loss in 23 fights.
Ryder could now fight Alvarez in May or become a full world champion if the four-weight world champion decides not to fight at that weight next time around.
The fight, held at the O2 Arena, was considered one of the best domestic fights of the year and lived up to its billing before the anti-climactic end as Parker headed for Ryder at the start of the fifth, saying he couldn’t go on.
It started at a blistering pace, with Parker being the most mobile earlier, but also suffering some minor bruising under his right eye in the first.
The Derbyshire man had some success working on Ryder’s body in the second, although the Londoner was unhappy with what he thought was a low blow before landing a few blows at the end of the third – this to which Parker smiled.
Ryder followed that up by landing a nice left hook in the fourth, the best punch of the fight, and produced an attack right after with the bell keeping Parker out of further trouble.
But it was to be the last of the action.