The fight, which started well after midnight was viewed by a reduced audience as many spectators had to leave the arena to catch the last public transport services of the night.
Saunders started the fight well landing with some crisp combinations, but as Ryder pressed he hadsuccess with both the jab and the left hand.
Ryder appeared to be coming into the fight and had a big 7th round, but failed to capitalize on that whilst Saunders, boxed and moved well.
As the fight entered the championship rounds it appeared that Saunders was in the lead but a big final round by Ryder, which saw the Islington man rock the champion, closed the gap and left the crowd waiting in anticipation for the decision.
Saunders was announced the winner with scores of 115-113, 115-114 and 115-113. The two southpaws put on an excellent showing. Saunders goes to 19-0 with 10 ko’s and Ryder 15-1 with 9 ko’s.
Whether Saunders is ready for the likes of Martin Murray, Darren Barker or Matthew Macklin remains to be seen, what may be more fitting is a rematch with Ryder, although that is unlikely to happen.