They say that boxing is all about levels and Sheffield's Ryan
Rhodes intends to prove he's a few notches above Sergey Rabchenko
The 35-year-old southpaw meets the unbeaten Belarusian for the
vacant European light-middleweight crown on the undercard of Scott
Quigg's massive clash with Rendall Munroe.
And he believes this is not only an opportunity to recapture a
belt he never lost in the ring, but also show that he still a man
who deserves to be considered as one of the best 11st 6lbs fighters
on the planet.
"This is a massive step up for Sergey Rabchenko," Rhodes, 46 - 5
(31 KOs), declared. "There's a huge difference in levels because
I've been British and European champion and I've boxed for world
"I'm not going to underestimate him and think this will be an
easy night because that would be stupid at this stage in my career
but I'm by far the biggest name he's faced.
"I've got to take him seriously because he's number one for the
European title and the EBU obviously think he's ready.
"He's upright and not very fast with his punches but his record
speaks for itself. He's unbeaten in 20 fights and I think he's
stopped 15 so he can obviously dig but they've all come against the
sort of kids he was supposed to get rid off and he's not boxed
anyone like me."
The burning issue in the weeks running up to the fight has been
the fact that Rabchenko is being trained by Ricky Hatton.
Despite also being Rhodes' trainer, The Hitman insists that he
has the interests of both fighters at heart and the decision to
work the Belarussian's corner came prior to this bout being
"I thought when the fight was rescheduled, Ricky would stop
training him and then I saw on Twitter that Ricky had said
something like 'Radchenko has had a good day in the gym' which I
thought was strange," Rhodes recalled.
"I mentioned it to my manager Dave [Coldwell] and that led to
him and Ricky having words on Twitter.
"I was shocked and a little bit disappointed but I've spoken to
Dave and the people are around me and we've just got to get on with
"Obviously Ricky's not able to get into the ring and fight for
him and I hear Rabchenko is not a good speaker of English. Whether
it'll work I don't know, but I've just got to go in there and do
what I do best.
"I don't think it's anything personal. It's just that I'm taking
more than 150 people down to Manchester with me and they're going
to be seeing my promoter in the opposite corner.
"I've just got to turn around to them and explain that's it
business and just a decision that Ricky has made."
And Rhodes is hoping that after this fight Hatton Promotions can
work towards getting him another shot at world honours.
The Yorkshireman failed in his attempts to dethrone WBC champion
Saul 'Canelo Alvarez last year. It was the fourth time he'd
unsuccessfully challenged on the sport's biggest stage, but he
insists that his time could still come.
He said: "I'm not writing off fighting for another world title
and winning it. I think I fought Alvarez at his best and I really
do believe that he's going to go on and be one of the greatest
world champions around.
"Beating Rabchenko is massive because not only is it a chance to
get that belt back, it'll also put me in good stead with the world
governing bodies. I think I'm number nine with the WBC and just
outside the top ten with the others so this will put me up
Thoughts of defeat have never once crossed Rhodes' mind.
After boxing professionally for 17 years it would be easy to
assume that retirement might be a consideration if he cannot get
past Rabchenko, but Rhodes feels he's got plenty left in the tank
and could even become Britain's equivalent of Bernard Hopkins.
"Retiring is not something that has ever entered my head," he
"I'm 35 years old and I'm still loving the game and I think I'm
still competing at a very good level.
"I'll keep boxing until I stop enjoying it. At this stage Dave
Coldwell, my trainer, and Mark Wiley, my conditioner, are still
getting me in top shape and I still love going to the gym.
"Being in there and seeing the younger fighters and the keep
fitters trying to keep up with me gives me a buzz. As long as I
keep enjoying that, I'll keep doing it."
By Andrew Wake