Crunch time for Ryder & O'Kane on Saturday's Christmas Cracker

On Saturday Night, unbeaten middleweight duo John Ryder (12-0) and Eamonn O’Kane (8-0) put their Os on the line in a British title eliminator as part of Betfair’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ at the London Olympia, live on Sky Sports HD.

The victor can expect a shot at the title in 2013, which Billy Joe Saunders and Nick Blackwell box for the week after.

“It is a British title eliminator so hopefully it will put me in line for a final eliminator and then maybe a shot at the British champion,” said Ryder.

“I am not going to get too far ahead of myself; Eamonn is a big, dangerous opponent so I have to get through him first. I am not taking it for granted; it is a two-horse race on Saturday so we are both there to win.

“It is a good match, a good 50-50 fight and I am sure it is one the fans will be excited to see on Sky Sports as it’s the ultimate risk-reward fight for both of us. He is a good, tough opponent with a lot of experience. He is 30 years old so he has been around the game for a long time, albeit as an amateur, so I am expecting a good, hard fight.

“I have known he is about and he has called me out a couple of times on Twitter. It is a fight I didn’t expect to happen straight away but it is here now so I will take the bull by the horns.

“It is definitely my biggest test yet, by far. Eamonn is a livewire, he is 8-0, he is in this business, he is 30 now and he has to start getting a move on

“I haven’t seen too many of his fights. I saw him in the Prizefighter in Belfast, which he won, and his fight against Wayne Reed in Sheffield but I hadn’t seen too much of him before I started getting my research done for Saturday.

“He might be 30 but he is a young 30, he has not been in many hard fights, he has had a brilliant amateur career and I expect a nice, live opponent. I have to be sensible, I have to box clever and not get involved in a fight. Eamonn looks big and strong so I will have to use my advantages against his.”

O’Kane jumped to the front of the queue in the middleweight division with a dominant performance in the Betfair All-Irish Prizefighter Middleweights in May. A solid win over the dangerous Terry Carruthers followed in September, and the Commonwealth Games Gold medallist sees Saturday’s fight as a huge opportunity.

“He’s in the same sort of position as I am,” said O’Kane. “He’s 12-0 and he’s looking to make that next step up to British title level and winning titles and honours so it definitely should be a good fight.

“It is going to be a tough fight for me and it is going to be a tough fight for John so it is going to be a great watch for the fans. I obviously have a game plan that I intend to bring to the fight and I am sure he will be looking to do the same. It is definitely an even fight so it will be interesting.

“I have seen John fight on some of the Matchroom shows and clips of him on Ringside. I was on the same bill as him when I fought Wayne Reed in Sheffield in July. He is definitely a talent and he has my respect. I have been training hard for Saturday and I know how stiff a challenge it is going to be but I am very confident in my capabilities and I think my pedigree in the amateurs and my professional fights so far will stand me in good stead to win this fight.

“We both could have taken easier fights. It is a risk for both of us but the benefits outweigh the risks. For me, that is the way it is.”

“Some people choose easier routes but it is good on his part and on mine that we have made this fight. I wanted to fight and this was a chance to get a good fight before Christmas. It could lead to a final eliminator for a British title so I want to win on Saturday and then move onwards and upwards.

“He’s a talented lad. He goes about his business quietly. He has an unorthodox style, a southpaw stance. He likes to hunch his shoulders and throws a few flashy shots.

“It is a great opportunity. It’s certainly not ideal circumstances because you would like three months to prepare but sometimes you just have to grab your chance and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Ryder’s clash with O’Kane is part of a fantastic line-up of British talent in London with Darren Barker’s return to action against fellow former European middleweight champion Kerry Hope topping the bill.

Erick Ochieng defends his English light middleweight title against British title challenger Max Maxwell, while unbeaten cruiserweight Wadi Camacho faces Toks Owoh for the vacant Southern Area strap.

Exciting bantamweight prospect Kal Yafai faces Spanish champion Jorge Perez, and impressive young former Team GB stars Martin J. Ward and Callum Smith continue their pro education.

Tickets for Betfair’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ are on sale now priced £40 unreserved, £60 corner ringside, £80 ringside and £150 VIP. Tickets are available from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900 and at


Crolla V Murray

A lot of people consider the lightweight bout taking place in Manchester this weekend between Anthony Crolla (27-4-1) and John Murray (32-2) to be a very close call indeed. The contest, in UK's second biggest city on Easter Weekend, is for the WBO lightweight Inter-continental title, but the significance of the result means more than the marginal title as it will put them a step closer to a world title fight. Even if this isn't immediately forthcoming, the division is stacked in Britain, and can throw up some massive domestic scraps.

Fight Reports

Anthony Crolla

Anthony Crolla (27-4-1) put in a career best shift to overcome an early onslaught by John Murray (33-3) and stop the former European lightweight champion in the tenth round of an epic regional battle. Make no mistake, this was the headline bout. Scott Quigg’s second round demolition of South African Tshifhiwa Munyai played chief support.