By Terence Dooley
Sheffield’s David Coldwell retired from professional boxing in 2000 with a 6-13 (2) record. The Calcutta-born flyweight won and defended the BBBoC Central Area title during his four-year 112lb career. Coldwell now juggles training, management and promotional duties with his role as Head Of Boxing at Hayemaker Promotions.
The bubbly 5’ 3’’ aficionado takes Ryan Rhodes into a WBC 154lb title challenge against Mexican wunderkind Saul Alvarez at the VFG Arena, Mexico on June 18th. Perceived as underdogs the world over, Coldwell believes that his man holds all the key cards going into the showdown with ‘Canelo’.
“Ryan did his last UK sparring session today (Monday) and we’ll do a bit over in Mexico,” revealed Coldwell as he chatted over the phone ahead of an evening training session with WBA heavyweight boss David Haye.
“Alvarez is one of the potential stars in world boxing. I rate him very highly as a prospect but he’s not the finished article yet. He makes a lot of mistakes, don’t get me wrong, he does a lot of good things as well, and the errors he makes are ones that Ryan can capitalize on.”
Alvarez made waves when stopping former welterweight world champion Carlos Baldomir in six rounds last September. Flooring the Argentine with a left hook late in the session and forcing referee Jose Cobian to hand the 40-year-old his first stoppage loss in sixteen years.
Coldwell, though, believes that Alvarez’s flattening of ‘Tata’ flattered the 20-year-old fledgling. “Let’s put Baldomir into perspective, before he fought [Zab] Judah [in 2006] who knew or rated him? He’s always been a tough man but he’s an average fighter with plenty of losses on his record who caught Judah on a bad night,” argued Dave.
“He made the most of it and became the world champion but the fact he beat Judah didn’t come into Alvarez’s win because Carlos was an old man by then. Alvarez looked sensation in stopping him but he’s a brawler who was made for a young prospect.
“Alvarez can punch, without a doubt, he’s a tremendous left hooker but you can’t paint him to be Superman when he’s not. I don’t think he’s there yet – he’s not the big thing that people are making him out to be. Maybe he’ll get there in a few years time but not right now.”
Ryan is the wrong side of thirty, he is also the first natural light-middleweight that Saul has faced. Alvarez weighed 151½lbs when winning the vacant WBC title with a point’s win over Matthew Hatton in March; ‘Magic’ hit the scales at 149½lbs; Rhodes will come in around the 154lb limit. Reports of the ‘Spice Boy’s demise may prove to be slightly precipitous given that Saul is facing a legitimate 154lber.
“If you look at where he is now you see that he’s a good prospect who can crack but he’s not unbeatable. Ryan Rhodes, as far as the experts in America are concerned, is a typical British/European class fighter who has never fought in America. If you haven’t fought in America they don’t think you can do anything. They’ve brought him over there for their young HBO hotshot so he can look good and impress,” muses Coldwell.
“On this side of the sea, we know different. We have been around Ryan and know what he’s capable of. If he pulls out the plan that we’ve got for him then I’m confident that he beats Alvarez.
“I have talked to Matthew (Hatton), yeah, and so has Ryan as he’s linked with the Hattons, they promote him and are very helpful: [matchmaker] Richard Poxon, Ricky and the rest. Matthew gave it a really good go against Alvarez. But, and I don’t think Matthew will find fault with this, Alvarez is a bigger fighter than Matthew and Matthew is more of an orthodox boxer. Matthew landed and gave him all sorts of trouble. When we saw Matt land on Alvarez we had to ask ourselves if Ryan landed that cleanly would Alvarez take the shots – I’m not sure he will do.”
Indeed, the 36-0-1 (26) champion was wobbled by a left hook in the opening round of his May 2010 win over Jose Miguel Cotto, he regrouped to dominate en route to a ninth round TKO but there were one or two question marks following the first stanza blip. Decision triumphs over Lovemore N’dou and Hatton in his last two have given rise to further quibbles over Alvarez’s potential. Dave, though, was quick to defend the youngster.
“Listen, anyone can get wobbled or put over with a shot,” he insisted. “All that showed, as I explained to Ryan, is that Alvarez is human. Cotto wobbled him, as you mentioned, but we know that fighters get shook and go onto become great fighters. We’re not reading too much into that but also recognize that this is not an impossible mission because he will get hurt when Ryan hits him.
“I also saw this earlier in Saul’s career. In one fight he showed out to the referee a bit so there might be something in that, we’ll see on fight night. We’re preparing for a really good fighter, a potential great as people are saying, just in case everyone is right about this kid.
“The biggest question is – what are they preparing for? Have they just watched Ryan against Jamie Moore and prepared for that one type of fighter? All I can do is coach Ryan and worry about what he can do and our game plan and not about anything they can do. Ryan will also enjoy and soak up the atmosphere rather than allowing it to get to him.”
The Mayas created a sophisticated society in Mexico over four thousand years ago. They are also rumoured to have inked images depicting Rhodes’ pro debut. The evergreen 34-year-old turned over in 1995; his storied career makes it seem that he has been around since time immemorial. Ryan will be boosted by the prospect of winning the title from a Mexican in the heart of Méjico.
“Ryan will get a buzz from this because he dreamed of winning a world title when first walking into the gym. Imagine fighting for your first WBC title in an arena in Mexico, it is every pro’s dream and Ryan is ready to perform in that type of arena. It is a Golden Boy show so the people at ringside will expect Alvarez to win. I think that will affect Ryan in a positive manner.”
He predicted that, “Ryan will stop him. I don’t think it will go the distance and we don’t plan on it going the distance. People can read into that what they want to read into it but just because we’re going for a knockout doesn’t mean we’ll go in stupid or won’t be strong over the twelve rounds. Ryan can stand and have it, he can box and pick his shots, we’ll see when Ryan puts the plan into place and stops Alvarez by doing what we’ve been working on.
“What a story it will be when Ryan beats Alvarez to become WBC champion. Don’t forget, when he came to me people were writing him off, saying he was finished and this and that. When he walked into the gym for the first training session myself and [conditioner] Mark Willie both looked at each other. We put him on the scales and found that he was fourteen-and-a-half stone.
“To think from where he was there to where he is now. I looked at him against Lee Blundell [a third-round TKO reverse in 2002] on Youtube the other night, you can see how upright and stiff he was. Ryan is a totally different fighter now. I feel that he is in better physical and mental shape, ability-wise he is better than he was.
“Mark worked on his fitness and conditioning, I worked on the boxing side of things and people say we’ve done a great job. Where Ryan is now is a testament to the work and, for me, one of the best stories in British boxing.”
The de rigueur ‘homecoming’ event would follow victory. Hatton Promotions have Richard Towers on their books as well as fellow Sheffield hopeful Adam Etches. “I think that is a given,” concurred Coldwell as talk turned to Ryan’s post-‘Canelo’ future. “Hatton Promotions have a few Sheffield lads so I’m sure they’ll put Ryan on at home for his first defence. I would imagine that we’ll have a great night in Sheffield.”
This big assignment comes at a cost for Coldwell; the 35-year-old has recently added a baby boy to his family. He also has a daughter, she is old enough to appreciate that her daddy has a big job on his hands but that will not ease the burden when Dave flies out later this week. Both father and daughter are already feeling the ache of absence.
“People forget that fighters take their trainers away with them. I’ve had to tell my little girl that I’m going away for three weeks. She’s heartbroken,” sighed Coldwell. “She is my best mate.
“I have to say goodbye to her on Tuesday night. Mate, it is going to be horrible. But she keeps telling me that she’ll take over from me one day and run the business side of things when she gets older so it is hers if she wants it. I don’t want my son to be a boxer – I’d prefer him to become a footballer!”
Speaking of footballers, Coldwell had his manager’s hat on earlier this week, he no longer trains former Premiership footballer turned boxer Curtis Woodhouse yet still operates in a managerial capacity for the former Birmingham FC player. Ironically, Curtis’ next fight is against ‘Funtime’ Frankie Gavin, who supports ‘The Blues’. Coldwell is a huge fan of the Brummie but must now turn part of his attention to plotting the WBO Inter-Continental welterweight titlist’s downfall in Liverpool’s ECHO Arena on July 16th.
“Curtis has been chomping at the bit for this fight for a long time and has built up a bit of bad blood to get it. To be fair he’s talked to get the fight made but now it’s made he knows what he’s got in front of him,” he enthused.
“Everyone knows how talented Frankie is. I rate him as Britain’s best prospect, a really good fighter – I’m a big fan of Frankie. That doesn’t mean that Curtis can’t cause a massive shock.
“One thing about Curtis is that he’s the most determined person I’ve met. This is his world title fight. He came into boxing looking for the British title but now he’s got a fight against the best light-welterweight in Britain, a guy who just happens to be up at welterweight at the minute.
“If Curtis beats Frankie then he’s cracked it. He’ll give it everything he’s got. We know he’s the underdog, we’re not idiots. George Groves was the underdog going in against James DeGale last week but it didn’t stop him from winning.”
Coldwell made note of Gavin’s anodyne twelve-round point’s win over Young Mutley at London’s O2 Arena last Saturday night. Pointing out that the World Amateur Games gold medalist was ill going into the fight.
“Nah, Frankie wasn’t well going into that fight and did well just to do the rounds because it is tough when you’re not well,” said Coldwell when asked if they had taken heart from Frankie’s muted performance.
“Frankie will want to put in a master class against Curtis because on paper Curtis is the type of fighter who will make him look a million dollars. The reason this fight was so easy to make is because Curtis’ style looks made for Frankie.”
As for the 15-2 (10 KOs) challenger, Coldwell was brutally honest when appraising what Woodhouse has to do in order to scalp Gavin, 10-0 (8 early). “Just try to hit him!” he joked.
“No one has been able to put anything on Frankie so Curtis will be looking to be the first to really challenge him. I know what Curtis has got to do, he knows and so does his trainer, Glyn Rhodes. We are all on the same page.
“Curtis has got to make this into his fight and at the end of it the people who have never given him credit will have to say, ‘You know what, good on him, he can fight and wears his heart on his sleeve.’ Curtis knows what he has to do and will give one hundred percent so people shouldn’t count him out.”
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