IN-form Iwan Evans (@IwanEvans19) runs the rule over Saturday's fight between Dave Ryan and John Wayne Hibbert. What's the bet, Iwan?
Dave Ryan v John Wayne Hibbert | Saturday 20.00 | Sky Sports 1
Dave ‘Rocky' Ryan (17-8, 4 KO's) and John Wayne Hibbert (15-3, 9 KO's) have already produced one of the fights of the year so far when they clashed at the 02 Arena in May and this Saturday night they are set to do battle again, with Ryan's Commonwealth and WBC International Light Welterweight titles on the line.
The first bout was a truly stunning battle that opened up the big 30 May PPV show and set the tone for a great night of fights. Hibbert twice knocked Ryan down – firstly in the third and then with a crippling body shot in the fifth – but Rocky came on exceptionally strong and got the job done in a brutal ninth round, where he had the Essex man down twice.
This is the third fight between the two as they also met in March 2013, in a small hall show in Grays, Essex, with ‘Rocky' prevailing by a score of 97-95 on referee Mark Green's scorecard.
I had Hibbert as the slight favourite going into the second contest; he had looked very good in his previous fight, dominating Tyler Goodjohn (TKO8) at the 02 and had also scored a big win over visiting Argentinian Leonardo Esteban Gonzalez (TKO5), at the Greenwich venue.
What I also looked at in the second fight was the fact John Wayne had started his career near the Light Middleweight division limit, weighing in at 152lbs or 153lbs in his first four pro fights. But what was worrying to see in the contest is that Ryan, who weighed no heavier than 146lbs in his first four, was physically the stronger man.
Rocky is a great story; he's going through a real purple patch in his career at the minute and the family are thriving as 22-year-old sister Sandy was a silver medallist in the World Amateur Championships earlier this year.
The Derby boxer looked to be on the way to a very modest professional career a few fights ago but a surprise win over former world title challenger and European champion Paul McCloskey, in December 2013, has kicked off a run of three straight wins, which also saw him narrowly beat Tyrone Nurse for the Commonwealth title.
Closer inspection of the 32-year-old's record will tell you that he's lost some very close fights against very good opposition – his last defeat being a narrow loss to current British Welterweight king Sam Eggington in November 2013. Looking through Ryan's CV, he's been in with a much higher level of opponent than Hibbert, including four current or past British champions, and I believe that's a massive advantage for him this weekend.
I've watched the second fight between these two guys three times in the build-up to this contest, as well as the live showing on 30 May, and what I really take from that fight is how much Ryan's shots seemed to hurt John Wayne.
There's not a great deal between the two in boxing ability; Hibbert has probably slightly better footwork and Ryan more accomplished hand speed but if you watch that bout in May, Ryan reddens Hibbert's face in the first round and in rounds seven, eight and nine especially, he seemed to really shake him to his boots.
The Derby man's conditioning is fantastic; he looked as fresh as he did in the first round, as he did in the ninth and that was despite being put down twice and suffering from a rib injury going into the fight.
I just don't know how Hibbert is going to be able to turn things around here. I have Ryan a much shorter price than the bookies, and BetVictor and Boylesports especially, are handing out generous odds of 4/6 for a Ryan win.
At the time of writing there were no odds available for a stoppage win but I wouldn't put anyone off anything bigger than 13/10, given how badly Ryan hurt Hibbert last time out. He's got over some previous hand troubles and is really developing his power.
Dave Ryan v John Wayne Hibbert – Dave Ryan to win (4/6 BetVictor)