Essex victory puts Derby boxer Ryan in contention for shot at English crown
DAVE Ryan has put himself back in with a shout at an English title fight after beating light-welterweight John Wayne Hibbert on his own patch in Essex.
Ryan travelled to Grays Civic Hall to take on Hibbert in a 10-round contest which was an eliminator for the English light-welterweight crown.
And the Derby fighter shrugged off the disappointment of having lost his last two fights to see off Hibbert by a 97-95 score on referee Mark Green's card.
Ryan's last defeat was in a controversial and close battle with footballer-turned-boxer Curtis Woodhouse for the vacant title in December.
Many observers thought Ryan deserved the verdict that night in Rotherham and, ironically, the boot was on the other foot for Woodhouse last week when he lost the title in his first defence on a split decision against Shayne Singleton.
Woodhouse was so incensed by the decision that he has threatened to quit the sport.
But that will be of little concern to Ryan, who will now hope to challenge Singleton.
"I'll have another shot somewhere down the line, when the promoters can get their heads together," said Ryan.
He says that winning in the hostile environment of his opponent's home venue has given him a huge boost.
"You know you've definitely won when you get the verdict away from home like that," said Ryan.
"I went in there thinking I needed to knock him out to win. He'd shifted 350 tickets and I'd taken 12 people down, so it was a hostile crowd.
"Sometimes referees can be pressured but that didn't happen this time."
Ryan's face barely suggested he had been in a fight afterwards, whereas Hibbert emerged with a selection of cuts and bruises, but Ryan was nonetheless impressed with his opponent.
"I couldn't say I controlled it throughout the fight – he caught me with a couple of decent shots in rounds three and four but nothing too serious.
"I think I won most of the rounds but Hibbert was a tough kid with a hard head.
"He was a nice bloke, too, he came in and congratulated me afterwards and I don't think he had any complaints.
"Winning away from home like this has given my confidence a massive boost and I'll be back in the gym next week, preparing for the next one."