Ryan Ford has been waiting for this moment his entire fight career.
His opportunity to perform on the big stage has arrived.
Ford’s fought and won world titles during his 10-year mixed martial arts career. He won the UBO world light heavyweight boxing title in February, but this title shot is one he’s been waiting for.
The 35-year-old will fight Britain’s Anthony Yarde (12-0) for the vacant WBO Intercontinental light heavyweight title in London, England, on Sept. 16.
It’s the co-main event that features the WBO middleweight title fight between Billy Joe Saunders and Willie Monroe.
“Everyone knows how hard I’ve worked for this. This has been 13 years of my life I’ve been grinding to make it to this point in the fight game,” said Ford. “The work I’ve put in the gym and on the road has paid off. It’s time for me to shine.”
Ford (12-0) last fought in May with a technical decision victory over Robert Berridge in Singapore. Ford was initially training to fight Jimmy Sweeney in September in Liverpool, England, but when he got the phone call to fight Yarde, it was an opportunity just too good to pass up.
“I want to be the best, and you have to fight the best, and I’m willing to take those challenges,” said Ford, who said Sweeney contacted him and wished him well in his upcoming title fight. “I would never pass this opportunity up, because when that opportunity knocks you have to answer the door because that knock may never come again.”
Yarde will pose the biggest challenge in Ford’s boxing career. He’s 10 years younger than Ford, and 11 of his 12 wins have come by knockout. In his last fight, he beat previously unbeaten Richard Baranyi (18-1) for the WBO European light heavyweight title.
Typically, Ford is the bigger fighter when he steps into the ring against his opponents, but this time around, Yarde holds the edge.
Ford says couldn’t be more ready for this challenge.
“He’s a proven fighter in the UK, and a lot of people are saying ‘who is this guy?’ ” he said. “People don’t know me over there, but I can guarantee that on Sept.16, people will know me. I’m coming to win that belt.
“He’s got 11 knockouts. It will be by far my toughest challenge in the boxing ring, but I believe I will be his toughest challenge too. I don’t think he’s fought anyone like me.”
Ford certainly has an edge in the boxing ring when it comes to experience. Not only has he gone 51 rounds in his 12 pro fights, he also has 27 mixed martial arts matches to draw from. Yarde has never gone past the fourth round in any of his 12 pro fights.
“I’ve seen video on him and he’s a tough puncher with knockout power, but I’ve never seen a guy press him,” said Ford.
“The guys he’s fought the last few fights have looked scared of him. I’m not that guy. I’m not scared of him.”
Ford will leave Sunday for Montreal and begin his training camp with Grant Brothers Boxing. In past training camps, he’s been table to train with great boxers like Eric Bazinyan and Dario Breicean. Ford is s also being trained by Jessy Thompson, who has prepped several world-class boxers.
“I have put in the work over all these years,” he said. “I think it’s my time to be the best.”