By David Haye
If you can't wait until July 2nd to see a British underdog travel overseas and dethrone a world champion, there's no need to fret. This weekend (Sunday, 10am on Sky Sports HD 1) in Mexico our very own Ryan Rhodes goes up against Mexican Saul Alvarez for the WBC world light-middleweight title.
Having watched Ryan for years, I've got no doubt he has the skills and mentality to go into Alvarez' backyard and do a number on the younger man. Many people view Ryan as the underdog going into this fight and, while I can see how they've come to this conclusion, I don't necessarily agree with them.
Although very talented and exciting in his own right, Alvarez lacks the all-round experience and seasoning of Rhodes, and that could prove crucial on the night. I know the importance of experience and I know how vital it is to test yourself against all manner of boxing styles. Alvarez has a lot of fights – a hell of a lot for somebody of only 20 years of age – but he hasn't really been tested in the same way that Rhodes has.
Alvarez' record is padded with a lot of quick wins against sub-standard foes and while he's looked great against that level of opposition, it doesn't really tell us a great deal about his actual ability. His key wins are those against Carlos Baldomir, Jose Miguel Cotto and Matthew Hatton. With all due respect to those three, you wouldn't call any of them world-class wins.
So, as far as I can see, Rhodes will present Alvarez with the first genuine test of his career.
Ryan is one of those guys that seems like he's been around for decades, but he is still only 34 and, believe me, has a lot left in the tank. His trainer Dave Coldwell has done a fantastic job turning his career around and reinventing his style, and I've no doubt Ryan is better at 34 than he was at 24. He knows what went right and wrong in the past, and that alone makes him a dangerous man. He has been tested and pushed in ways that Alvarez has yet to.
In terms of style, this is also a great match-up for Ryan, as he won't have to go looking for Alvarez and he won't have to force anything. Alvarez will be right in Ryan's face at all times, and that will present some lovely opportunities for those sharp southpaw counter-punches he likes to throw.
Of course, Alvarez wouldn't have got to where he is today if he couldn't fight a bit, and I'm sure there is a very good reason why he is favourite in this fight. Alvarez is being tipped by a lot of people to be the future of Mexican boxing, and that brings both confidence and expectancy.
If Alvarez can handle the expectancy then he will only grow in confidence from that kind of talk. If he can add the name of Ryan Rhodes to his list of beaten victims, it will go some way to confirming what many people are saying about this young Mexican.
I'm willing to be proved wrong, but I think Rhodes gives Alvarez plenty of problems this weekend and may even pull off the upset. Ryan is very similar to me in terms of attitude and mindset, and he will undoubtedly relish fighting in Alvarez' hometown and silencing the cheers of the Mexican fans.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you all that there is no greater feeling than winning a world title on foreign territory and hearing the hush of the home support.
If Ryan wins this weekend, he will join a special club of British fighters who have won world titles on away soil - and I'll happily roll out the red carpet for him...
courtesy of hayemaker.com