John Ryder earned a shot at WBA super-middleweight champion David Morrell with a split points decision over Daniel Jacobs at Alexandra Palace in North London.
In a fight of two halves, Jacobs cruised through the first half as Ryder struggled to find the range, before dramatically coming on from round seven.
The decision looked harsh on Jacobs, who appeared to have a shut-out in the first six rounds and came back into things late on. But Jacobs seemed to bring problems on himself, as he switched to southpaw, which seemed to suit Ryder more than him.
Whether the former WBA and IBF middleweight champion will look to continue at the age of 35 must be up to question. It could be a long road back to world title fights.
It was a dream win for Ryder, though, who had been on the rough end of decisions himself, most notably his loss to Callum Smith for the WBA title.
Jacobs bossed a quiet first round from behind the jab and must have been content seeing his right hand land the few times he threw it.
Ryder was struggling to find his range, which suited Jacobs, who landed a good left hook up close and a rangy right in the second round.
The third went to the same way and, while Ryder had a bit more success at the start of the fourth round, Jacobs was quite happy with a pedestrian pace.
Too often, though, Ryder was caught at range, looking for opening that weren’t there, while Jacobs kept a jab in his face. Too dramatic an advance would normally see Ryder met with a solid punch, like the body punch in the fifth that made him wince and force him to hold. The jab was having his effect as Ryder looked puffy around the face and Jacobs through a as he found Ryder open and mid-range.
Ryder changed tact in the sixth, charging in and walking through punches to try and land his own, but Jacobs nailed him with an uppercut and with sent his head pinging back with a sharp left-right.
Midway through the seventh round, Ryder found something. He landed with a big hook, which Jacobs matched, but then Ryder went again, landing two big hooks and keeping the pressure on as the American looked disorganized for the first time, although Jacobs landed a big right on the bell.
Jacobs switched southpaw in the eighth round, which seemed to serve no real purpose, and after pulling up some short hooks up close, he finished the round well, catching Jacobs with the left and forcing the American to hold.
Now Ryder had a spring in his step, and he was even beating Jacobs to the jab, he landed the better shots in the ninth round and, while the tenth as closer, there was no real authority in anything Jacobs did as Ryder again finished the round well.
Jacobs finally switched back to orthodox in round 11 and had immediate success, catching Ryder coming in with a straight right down the pipe as the Londoner advanced and regaining control of proceedings.
The last round was quite messy, as Ryder struggled to maintain his attacks, although Jacobs struggled to land cleanly either.
Mike Fitzgerald and Jean-Robert Laine both scored it 115-113 and Marcus McDonnell had it 115-113 to Jacobs. The referee was Steve Gray.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 – covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.