By Terence Dooley
Earlier this month, Sheffield’s Ryan Rhodes decided to withdraw from his March 24 European light-middleweight showdown with Belarus’s Sergey Rabchenko after injuring his back in sparring. Rhodes, who unsuccessfully challenged for Saul Alvarez’s WBC 154lb belt last October, had hoped to put the problem behind him and move forward with the fight, but after taking medical advice ‘The Spice Boy’ decided to pull the plug on the contest in order to avoid short changing his fans.
“Hopefully I’ll be back in the gym and sparring soon then gradually build it from there,” said Rhodes, 46-5 (31), when speaking to Boxingscene.com about his injury. “Don’t forget, I’m 35-years-old – I can’t go into fights less than 100%. It is not like it was just an eight rounder; it is for the European title. I want to be at my best.
“I never lost that title in the ring [Rhodes was stripped of the belt when challenging for the world crown as per EBU rules]. The last thing I want to do is not go in there 100% ready and then have to make excuses. I went straight back into the gym after my last fight [an eight-round decision win over Siarhei Khomitski in November], had ten days off after Christmas and then got back into the gym in January, so obviously I was training for fun and then for the fight.
“Unfortunately I was sparring with [middleweight contender] Kerry Hope and my back gave way, it affected my whole left hand side. We gave it a few days, I see a chiropractor once a week anyway, I went twice that week and for a massage, so when it didn’t get better I decided to pull out. I don’t want to give out excuses after a fight if it doesn’t go my way. Rabchenko has 10 years on me – I’m not giving him any advantages. I will beat him when I’m 100%.”
Rabchenko, 19-0 (14), will still appear on the March 24 Hatton Promotions bill at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge Arena; the 26-year-old takes on the ever ready TBA and recently stated that he is willing to take Rhodes’s word over the injury situation, this time at least.
“Thanks for that, yeah, I appreciate it,” joked the Sheffield stylist in response to Rabchenko’s comment. “When a fighter is injured they shouldn’t risk the situation. I spoke to [trainer] Dave [Coldwell]; we decided it wasn’t worth going into the fight because I couldn’t train anyway. We thought it was the right decision. We’re looking at late-May, early-June now and I will be right for then. I’ve pulled out of fights because of injury in the past, got better and proved it was the right thing to do by winning the fight. It is a tough decision, but you’re fighting for a major title. When I win it will boost my ranking again – I’m not writing off fighting for a world title. This title opens doors.”
Alvarez meets Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand on May 5. ‘Sugar’ Shane is more ‘Canderel’ these days as the 40-year-old has lost his pep and pop. Rhodes believes that ‘Canelo’ will hand the American veteran his first stoppage defeat. He predicted: “Shane’s never been stopped, but I’ve got a feeling Alvarez will be the first to stop him as he has the tools and ammunition.”
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