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Weekend Betting Angle – Jacobs vs Ryder

IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston weighs up Saturday night’s intriguing super-middleweight clash between two-time world champion Danny Jacobs and Islington contender John Ryder.

Danny Jacobs is rightfully the favourite but John Ryder is definitely in with a chance in tonight’s intriguing 168-pound elimination match, scheduled for 12 rounds, at Alexandra Palace. Betfred offers Jacobs at 4/6 (-150) with Ryder priced at 6/5 (+120).

Ryder has home advantage in London. He’s a rugged southpaw who brings pressure, but he’ll have to produce the fight of his life if he’s going to beat Jacobs.

There are reasons for hope, though, if you’re backing the British southpaw. Jacobs has just turned 35. He looked terrible in his last fight when eking out a split decision win over Gabriel Rosado 15 months ago. Jacobs was tentative. He boxed a risk-averse fight and he almost blew the decision.

This is where it gets tricky. Has Jacobs regressed? Or did he simply have an off night against Rosado? I actually thought Jacobs looked quite sharp when stopping Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in five rounds in his last fight before meeting Rosado, and, of course, he’s a former middleweight champion who fought Gennadiy Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez right down to the wire. You likely wouldn’t pick Ryder to beat the version of Jacobs that was highly competitive against Canelo and GGG, right? But will we see that version of Jacobs again? There’s a possibility that Ryder is in the right place at the right time.

Ryder has a dogged determination that has to be admired. He’s suffered setbacks but he never gave up on himself. Now, at 33, it’s the Last Chance Saloon for Ryder. If he can upset Jacobs he’s in line for a title fight. If Ryder loses, it’s surely all over, at least as far as world titles are concerned.

As ever, the stocky, short-armed Ryder will be giving away height and reach. Jacobs, at his best, is the superior boxer and the sharper puncher. But Jacobs’ performance against Rosado raises serious doubts.

It’s pretty clear that Ryder’s best chance is to crowd Jacobs and basically not allow him to get comfortable. But Jacobs can be dangerous and he’s clever at switching to the southpaw stance to land left hands. Ryder is likely to get hit and possibly hurt if the fight is at long range. But if Ryder can close the distance behind a tight defence and stay on top of Jacobs, it becomes a winnable fight.

Ryder will have a 7,000 crowd right behind him. Jacobs has never fought in Europe before and his wins in Quebec and Puerto Rico were against overmatched opponents. He’s not accustomed to have the crowd cheering for his opponent.

If Ryder can get off to a good start and ride the crowd’s support, he can build momentum and perhaps start to dishearten Jacobs with constant forward motion and punch-volume. After all, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, a fighter of similar build to Ryder, gave Jacobs a tough go of it some three years ago. If Derevyanchenko hadn’t suffered a knockdown in the first round he could have been on the right side of the split decision that night. And Jacobs might not be the fighter he was when he beat Derevyanchenko.

When it comes to betting on Jacobs vs Ryder it’s not easy to make a confident play. There are too many variables. I could see several possible outcomes. Ryder could hustle and bustle his way through. Jacobs could simply outbox and outsmart Ryder and possibly even stop him if he can catch the home fighter coming in. Or we could have a tactical fight in which neither man wants to take chances.

If you feel that Jacobs’ performance against Rosado wasn’t a true guide to the Miracle Man’s prowess, you’re getting a good price on a fighter who gave GGG and Canelo all they could handle. It figures that if Jacobs wins it will be by decision. But Jacobs to win inside the distance is offered at an attractive 4/1 (+400). At first glance, it seems unlikely that Jacobs will stop Ryder. But if Jacobs feels he is a level above his opponent and comes out aggressively, then a win for the New Yorker before the final bell is a possibility.

Ryder to win inside the distance is priced at 11/2 (+550). That doesn’t look like a winning bet. If Canelo and GGG couldn’t get Jacobs out of there, then Ryder doesn’t figure to do so, either. But Ryder by decision at 5/2 (+250) could be worth considering. Ryder to win by split decision at 12/1 (+1200) is a long-shot, but stranger things have happened.

If you like the idea of the fight going the distance you’re looking at laying 4/11 (-275). Distance “No” is 2/1 (+200), and there could be some value there. Jacobs busted up Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in the five rounds the fight lasted. He knocked down the tough Derevyanchenko and he also scored a knockdown against the gritty Polish fighter Maciej Sulecki. If Jacobs is in top form tonight he is capable of inflicting damage. But if Ryder can force Jacobs into a defensive type of fight he can largely negate the visitor’s firepower.

It’s possible to visualise Jacobs looking good and making a statement. It’s also possible to visualise Ryder, willed on by the crowd, staying on top of Jacobs and outworking him. And the crowd factor shouldn’t be underestimated.

I don’t think it’s possible to make a truly confident pick here. Taking the plus money on Ryder might not be the worst idea in the world. But Ryder needs to start fast and make his presence felt. To use an analogy from another sport, Ryder needs to take the ball and run with it. He just might be able to do it.

Main image: Jacobs (left) and Ryder battle on Saturday night. Photo: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.