WIRRAL teenage Thai boxer Joe Ryan is beginning 2022 ranked 19th in the world after knocking out Spanish champ Toni Romero just before Christmas.

Ryan, 17, took on WBC champion Romero in a European title fight at Fusion in Liverpool on December 18, using his elbow to knock out the experienced Gran Canaria fighter early in the second round.

He now heads to Istanbul next month for the IFMA European Championships, where gold would hand him automatic qualification to the World Muay Thai Games in Birmingham, America this summer.

Wirral Globe:

Joe Ryan and WBC Champion Toni Romero before the fight at Fusion in Liverpool on December 18. Picture courtesy of Andrew Greenhalgh

Joe, already a double IFMA (International Federation of Muay Thai) world champion, had four knock-outs from five fights in 2021 under his belt before taking on Romero in front of a sell-out crowd.

He said: "It felt amazing.

"I'm always confident going into a fight but to beat an older world-ranked fighter and reach the top 20 in the world was one of my lifetime ambitions."

Karl Ryan, Joe’s trainer and dad, said: "Joe's going to be WBC World Champion!

"I felt very proud when he won and very relieved too. I’d say that has to be his biggest test to date, fighting a much more experienced and older fighter.

"He can definitely go all the way, he’s been one of the most successful junior fighters in the world and I can see his adult career going the same way.”

After Istanbul, Ryan will be back on home turf when he faces Scottish fighter and UK No.4 Chris Shaw at Liverpool Olympia on Saturday March 19.

Former St Anselm's College pupil Ryan, now studying Sports Coaching at Aspire Combat Sports Academy in Liverpool, trains at Two Brothers Muay Thai gym in Birkenhead.

He also gives back to the gym, running the junior fight classes, teaching adult clinch classes and giving one-to-one sessions. The gym runs regular classes for adults and children from the age of five upwards.

For more information, visit the Facebook page 2 Brothers Muay Thai Gym, go to 2BrothersMuayThai.com or call 07816 972453.