RICKY HATTON says Bradley Pryce will get a "shock" when he faces Sergey Rabchenko in Bulgaria on Saturday night.
Pryce agreed to take the European and WBC silver light-middleweight title clash after French southpaw Cedric Vitu sustained an injury and Hatton says the Welshman doesn't know what he's let himself in for.
Rabchenko defeated the Pryce on points in 2011, but 'The Hitman' believes he's a different animal now and will score a stunning stoppage this time around.
"It might sound like I'm being arrogant, but I like to think I've added a bit more fluency to Sergey's game," Hatton, who took charge of Rabchenko's training early last year, said.
"He was a little bit like a typical eastern European when he fought Bradley Pryce last time and went back in straight lines. Now he sets up his attacks, he's a lot slicker with his defence, he feints and he's less obvious than he used to be, so I think Pryce will get a shock.
"It's a change of opponent and a change of styles [from Vitu], but Sergey's beat him before and if he's as good as we think he is, he should take care of business in better style than he did last time. I think he'll stop him."
Despite already holding a victory over Pryce, Rabchenko cannot afford to be complacent as a slip-up would likely cost him a world title opportunity in 2014.
"The fact that Bradley Pryce is in a position to challenge for the European and WBC silver belts shows he's a good fighter and Sergey has got to show him the respect he deserves," Hatton said.
"Sergey is number one for Mayweather and even if Mayweather decides to move down to welterweight, Sergey knows he'll get a shot at the vacant title so he can't afford to lose on Saturday."
Rabchenko v Pryce will be televised live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) from 7pm. The bill also features four of Britain's brightest prospects as Adam Etches, Scott Jenkins, Sonny Upton and Ryan Burnett appear against international opposition
IN DEPTH WITH JOSH McLAREN
Stoke welterweight Josh McLaren holds the ominous distinction of being the last fighter that legendary matchmaker Dean Powell signed to the Warren axis before his tragic death.
Since debuting in late June, the 6ft 2in Staffs stylist has shown promise registering a brace of comprehensive points wins over Lithuania’s Artuaras Zbarauskas and Brummie centurion Jason Nesbit.
And the 23-year-old will be hoping to advance further up the ladder when he takes on Cardiff’s Gareth Piper on the big Liverpool Echo Arena show on Saturday 7th December headlined by Derry Mathews challenging Stephen Ormond for his WBO European lightweight crown; Liam Smith defending his British Light-Middleweight title against Mark Thompson; Paul Butler defending his WBO Intercontinental Super-Flyweight title against Ruben Montoya, plus Joe Selkirk and Ronnie Heffron challenging for the Vacant WBO European Light-Middleweight title.
Remaining tickets are available from the Liverpool Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 8000 400 or online at www.echoarena.com
Watch the whole card live and exclusive in the UK by subscribing to BoxNation, The Channel of Champions, (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546). Join at www.boxnation.com
Boxing writer Glynn Evans caught up with McLaren to find out more about his background and career as a boxer.
Name: Josh McLaren
Family background: I’m one of three. I’ve an older brother and a younger sister. I’m from a big boxing family. Both my dad and granddad boxed amateur and my brother had ten bouts as an amateur novice. My cousin Kieron, who I’m pretty close to, won the Midland juniors a few times as an amateur and he’s recently turned over to the pros.
I still live at home in Stoke. My girlfriend is away at university. No kids yet.
Trade: I deliver P.E in schools. I take the PPA cover and also do a little bit of work as a teaching assistant. I’m in the process of taking over a franchise which delivers football skills.
Nickname: ‘Ice Man’. The local paper wrote that I was ‘ice cool’ and it took off from there.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? Because I knew me dad had boxed, I’d been interested for as far back as I can remember. I’d always be putting his old gloves on and be having play fights out the back on the trampoline.
I only started boxing when I was 15 and dad began to coach at an amateur gym. Previously, I’d been heavily into my football. Around the age of 14, I was on Derby County’s books for a season. I was a dot, really tiny and unfortunately they released me.
What do you recall of your amateur career? The gym dad coached at was called Queensberry ABC and I stayed there right through my amateur career.
However, between the ages of 16-19, I attended the Hopwood Hall Boxing Academy in Manchester. The coaches there, Alwyn Belcher and Jimmy Barker, have turned out some top talent over the years like (future pro champions) Don Broadhurst, Martin Gethin, Gary Woolcombe....
I went as a novice but really benefited from the one-to one coaching I got three times a day with such fantastic trainers. They remain the biggest influence on my boxing.
I think I finished up having 51 amateur bouts and I won 35. As a junior, I won a national Golden Gloves Belt for novices with fewer than ten bouts then I got beaten in the Junior ABA final by (future Commonwealth Games gold medallist) Iain Weaver. At the time, Iain was a bit too cute. I also lost on points to Gary Corcoran, another good kid who’s undefeated as a pro.
In the seniors, I boxed for England in Wales but lost in the Fight of the Night to Craig Evans (now an unbeaten pro on the Frank Warren roster). We had a real ‘tear up’. Being handed that England vest remains my highlight, a proud moment.
I also represented Staffs or the Midland Area (representative squads) in Denmark and Sweden. In Sweden I got beaten by a Dane called Jahja Ahmed, who was number 14 in the world. I learned a lot from him.
I also won the Midland ABA title and was the first from Stoke to achieve that since Scott Lawton 13 years before. Scott had also boxed from the Queenberry club. In the next round I lost a hometown decision to Maxie Hughes in Darlington.
I really enjoyed the amateurs, not just the fights but the discipline it gave me to lead a better life. I guess I could’ve achieved more if it hadn’t been for a few dubious decisions but you can’t look back in anger.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? The controversial loss to Maxie caused me to fall out of love with the amateur game. I boxed on for another year without really ‘wanting it’ any more. I knew I was too good to stop but I’d lost a bit of enthusiasm.
Boxing pro was always my ambition and I had the self belief that I could make a go of it so took a leap of faith.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m promoted by Queenberry Promotions. Apparently, I’m the last one who Dean Powell arranged to sign so it’d be nice to do something good for his memory. Whenever we spoke, Dean was always very helpful and ‘happy go lucky’.
I’m managed by Mick Carney and coached by Lyndon Newbon who previously worked with (champions) Chris Edwards and Scott Lawton. Lyndon and I have a good trusting relationship. He doesn’t try to change what I’m good at, just enhances it and adds little bits and bobs.
Shrewsbury Town’s goalkeeper Joe Anyon helps me with my strength and conditioning. He does a lot of explosive leg work which provides a nice strong base. He works on specific muscle groups and it’s really hard. I tend to leave his sessions walking like John Wayne!
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? At the moment, I train at the gym on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights plus Saturday morning. I have Wednesday and Sunday off.
I get to the gym around 4p.m. The schedule varies depending on whether there’s sparring available but a routine session would involve four rounds of skipping and a bit of shadow boxing to loosen up. Then I’d do pads and the bar-bag. We do a lot of technical stuff as well as fitness work such as defensive drills, practising counters. We finish with conditioning work and the circuits.
I normally take a four mile run at night after the gym, but I’ll chuck in a longer run or sprints every now and then to vary things. On Saturday morning we do interval work.
I most enjoy the pads. You feel amazing after coming through a really hard session knowing it’s in the bank. I least enjoy sprints. I’m actually good at them but I get very nervous because I’m really competitive and have to win every race!
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m orthodox but I can switch. I suppose I’m more of a measured boxer who applies pressure with my feet and counters opponent’s leads. I’m good at judging distance. My jab, which I neglected in the amateurs, is now my most effective shot but I can have a ‘tear up’, if I need to.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? Everything. You never stop adding and improving. I think I’m quite good in all areas but can certainly still improve in every one.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The pros isn’t as rushed. Starting out, I needed to slow my feet down. Also, there’s a different emphasis. The amateurs is about scoring points, the pros is about controlling and dictating the fight.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? (Recent world amateur bronze medallist) Anthony Fowler. I sparred him at the GB set up in Sheffield. He had a good style that impressed me. He’s also really strong and starting to knock opponents out.
All time favourite fighter: It’s a tie between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto.
All time favourite fight: The first Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios fight, when Rios stopped him, sticks in my mind.
Which current match would you most like to see made? Saul Alvarez against Gennady Golovkin at middleweight. I’d pick Alvarez.
What is your routine on fight day? I allow my body to wake up when it’s ready. No alarms. You need the best night’s sleep you can get. After that, my main focus is to stay relaxed and try not to think about the fight.
For my debut, I actually worked on the day. Last time, up in Sheffield, I walked around the city and the shops. I won’t sit in the house ‘stewing’, wasting nervous energy. I have to be active.
In the changing rooms, I’m pretty calm. I’ll get my shorts on about four fights before I’m due to box and take my time with everything. I’m pretty chilled and laid back.
Entrance music: Last time it was ‘Sail’ by AWOL Nation. I first heard it on a UFC bill.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? I’ve not thought too much about titles just yet but, ultimately, I want to be a world champion. I wouldn’t waste my time if I didn’t think it was possible.
I always try my best at whatever I do and I‘m in the right hands with Frank Warren. I trust him fully to push me forward when the time’s right. A title before the end of 2014 would be nice.
How do you relax? My missus is away at uni in Liverpool so I go up there on weekends. Until recently, I played Sunday league soccer but now I just play a bit of casual 5-a-side.
I go the cinema a lot, play Grand Theft Auto and enjoy a game of tennis in the summer.
Football team: Man United. David Beckham was my childhood hero.
Read: The ‘Twilight’ books. I’m also reading ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ by Robert Greene.
Music: Hip-hop and rap. My favourite artists are Odd Future, a group of rappers.
Films/TV: I like films that are fast and furious. My favourites are the superheroes, Transformers or Marvel. I hardly watch tele, just films.
Aspiration in life: To headline a big show in Vegas.
Motto: You get out, what you put in.
SATCHELL AND FLANNIGAN GET BLACKPOOL SEND-OFF AFTER SIGNING WITH BOXNATION
Boxing fans will get the last chance to see British and Commonwealth flyweight champion, Kevin Satchell, and Prizefighter winner, Terry Flannigan, on a VIP Promotions show on Friday November 15, after the pair were recently snapped up by Frank Warren and BoxNation TV.
The duo will form part of a top-draw card at the Blackpool Winter Gardens, along with Amir Khan’s brother Haroon and local man Jack Arnfield taking on Max Maxwell. While the whole show will be streamed live and free on VIPBOXING.TV, with VIP hoping to beat their previous best of over 15,000 viewers.
Unbeaten in 11 outings, Liverpool’s Satchell has proved sensational after stopping local rival Paul Edwards for the Commonwealth crown, and then finishing former champ Chris Edwards for the British title last year. The 25-year-old has since defended both belts and will be looking to conquer Europe next.
Former English super-featherweight king Flannigan, meanwhile, is looking strong at 21-0. The Mancunian has Prizefighter wins over former British champions Derry Matthews and Gary Sykes on his ledger, and in April this year ‘Turbo’ beat former world lightweight champion Nate Campbell inside the distance.
“Kevin and Terry are two of the best young boxers in Britain,” stated VIP head, Steve Wood. “They are both exciting to watch and when you look at the names that they have on their records it just shows their quality.
“They’ve both been overlooked by SKY TV in the past, but I’m delighted that Frank Warren has signed them up to BoxNation TV which is a dedicated boxing channel and will give them the exposure they deserve.
“We’re on a high at VIP Promotions, we’re producing champions all the time, and it’s fantastic to see Kevin and Terry get the rewards for their hard work and commitment. I believe both these lads can be world champions and can't wait to get working with BoxNation on the path to ensuring they get their chances.
“The Winter Gardens is one of the UK’s best boxing venues and this show is top quality. It’s a going to be an exciting evening and some tickets are still available. If you can’t get along then go to VIPBOXING.TV and watch live and free on the night.”
VIP Promotions presents Jack Arnfield versus Max Maxwell at the Blackpool Winter Gardens on November 15. The quality undercard will feature Bolton’s Haroon Khan; Lancaster’s Tomi Tatham; Cumbria’s Rick Skelton; Morecambe’s Isaac Lowe; Bolton heavyweight Paul Drago; Accrington’s Adam Machaj; Holyhead’s Mark Evans; Liverpool’s Dean Swanson and James Metcalf; Southport’s Scott Moonan; Derbyshire’s Jack Massey; Preston’s Dean Halsall, and Bristol’s Michael Ramabeletsa. Debutant Ian Hallsop from St. Helens will also appear.