Talking Boxing

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Righting the wrongs

Dave Ryan will be hoping to win Commonwealth honours for a second time, tonight in Edinburgh


A disputed loss to Sam Eggington three years ago turned around the career of Dave ‘Rocky’ Ryan.
Referee Shaun Messr may have given ‘The Savage’ the nod by a score of 97-95 that November day at the Holte Suite in Birmingham, but in turn it forced Ryan to take the sport more seriously.

“That really pissed me off,” Ryan  (17-9, 4 KOs) told Talking Boxing.

Ryan, 33, describes Messr’s decision as “bizarre”, but his eighth professional loss didn’t deter him from knuckling down and upsetting the odds when, just four weeks later, he beat former world title challenger Paul McCloskey on points in Leeds.

“It was the month after that I fought Paul McCloskey. I thought: ‘He’s fought for a world title, he’s a class operator. I can do something here. Let’s see where I can go and what I can do.’

“Ever since the Paul McCloskey fight I’ve really took it seriously. I work with a strength and conditioning coach in the mornings, which I do literally every morning, and then (trainer) Clifton [Mitchell] in the afternoon for the boxing. It’s just a continued cycle of how it should be. Were as before the food was wrong, the diet, everything was all wrong. Everything is now right.”

The wrongs of training just once a day have now been righted into being involved in some entertaining dust-ups recently, as well as claiming the Commonwealth super lightweight title against Tyrone Nurse in 2014. Ryan would then defend it twice against John Wayne Hibbert, winning once and losing the belt in his last outing 13 months ago. The second and third in a series of fights which began in 2010. Ryan leads 2-1.

Tonight, in Edinburgh, Ryan will attempt to recapture the Commonwealth title at 140lbs in the back yard of the unbeaten and highly touted 25-year-old Josh Taylor. An Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist who is tipped to go all the way. The twist is that this is only Taylor’s seventh professional fight. For Ryan it’s fight number 27.

“Twenty-seven? Bloody hell. Didn’t think it was that many,” Ryan said when we told him.

“I know he’s a very good operator, to be fair. I know he’s tipped for stardom in the boxing ranks, and I believe one day he will get to the top level. But I think it’s too soon for him to jump up and try and take on the likes of me so early on in his career."

“I think I’m just going to be too much for him," he continued. 

"Especially in the later rounds when I just take over. Basically that’s the plan. I believe it’s going to start fast, but the thing is all his opponents before have all been there to be beat. Whereas I am not coming to lose, I’m coming to win.”

Ryan has fond memories of Scotland. He hasn’t fought here as boxer, but did marry his wife at Gretna Green, a popular wedding destination, three years ago.

“It’ll be nice going back up there.”

What won’t be so nice will be the reception he gets when he makes his walk to the ring just after 10pm, live tonight on Channel 5. Not only is he the away fighter, but he’s an Englishman fighting a Scotsman in Scotland.

“I believe he’s going to have a lot of fans there and the hostile crowd, but I don’t mind fighting away. I’ve fought away most of my career. It doesn’t make any difference to the way I perform or box in the ring if I’m the away fighter. It doesn’t bother me one bit at all. I look forward to it, to be fair.”

Ryan’s boxing career has had enough ups and downs for a few thousands screaming Scottish fans to not
bother him. He describes the first half of his pro career as not being himself. Not being the boxer, and not being the man he is today. But he wouldn’t change any of it.

“Midway through my career I had a couple of silly losses. That’s why I’m taking it seriously now. But things have changed, these last couple of years I’ve really knuckled down and give it my best.

“If you watch a few of my first fights, it’s not the same person basically. But ever since I started taking it seriously the last couple of years, and knuckling down and getting the most out of it, it’s brought out the best in me. I feel the way I box at the minute is the best I can do in the ring. I’ve got a good boxing brain, I am skilful, but I’m also strong. I’m a come forward fighter. I like to get involved in scraps.”

Josh Taylor told Talking Boxing recently that he is prepared to have a “fight” with Ryan should proceedings navigate itself into territory that Ryan will thrive on. Ryan is going into this fight not only confident, but relaxed knowing that there is little to no pressure on him.

“It’s going to be all new to him [Taylor],” Ryan said.

“All the pressure’s on him basically. There ain’t no pressure on me in this fight. It’s in his hometown, he’s unbeaten, he’s tipped for stardom and I think the bookies have got me as a massive underdog as well. I thought to have someone as an underdog that much is bizarre really. (At time of writingRyan was 9/2 with Paddy Power.)

“People are looking to records way too much nowadays. The best of me at this present time is at 33 years of age, not at 27, 28 where are a lot of people are. Everyone’s different aren’t they. I’m peaking now. I get a lot of motivation from people writing me off, but that’s the thing I’ll just prove everyone wrong come fight night. And people will say ‘Oh yeah, he’s still got some left.’. We will see.”