Boxing: Rhodes revels in fast lane

Harry Mullan sees another Brendan Ingle prodigy emerge as a prince in his own right

Two Telling scenes linger in the memory from Tuesday's short-lived British light- middleweight title fight in Sheffield between the 20-year-old champion, Ryan Rhodes, and the Hull fireman Peter Waudby, whose challenge was repelled with clinical efficiency in just 88 seconds.

The first was when Rhodes, having made a Naz-style entrance to the noisy and atmospheric Hillsborough Leisure Centre, danced his way to the ring and, milking the moment, stood on the ring apron. Everyone expected him to vault or somersault the ropes, and he let the anticipation build for fully a minute before wrong- footing us all by ducking conventionally through the ropes as if he were any journeyman professional going to work.

As a small thing in itself, it may have been his way of letting the punters know that, whatever the parallels with his world champion stable-mate, he is no Naseem clone but defiantly his own man. The uninitiated see Rhodes as the poor man's Hamed, which ignores the fact that much of Hamed's repertoire of back-flips, somersaults and breakdancing is borrowed from Rhodes, his stable-mate and training partner since they were child prodigies together in Brendan Ingle's Wincobank Academy.

The second cameo offered a poignant illustration of the unbridgeable gap between the small-hall, down-the-bill background from which Waudby so briefly emerged, and the championship class in which Rhodes already looks so comfortable. When Waudby, having been made to sit on a stool in mid-ring to recover from the effects of three punishing knock-downs, walked over to congratulate his conqueror, he tapped Rhodes on the shoulder with his glove and gestured towards the Lonsdale Belt which encircled the winner's waist. One more defence will make Rhodes the youngest-ever outright winner of a Belt after which he will certainly move on to greater things, but to his credit he was mature and sensitive enough to understand immediately what Waudby meant. He took off the belt and offered it to Waudby, who kissed it and handed it back: a touchingly symbolic way of kissing goodbye to the dreams which sustain battlers in his bracket. Boxing is a harsh sport, but it can have its beautiful moments too.

Within minutes of leaving the ring, Rhodes was back sitting at ringside beside Hamed as the pair offered vociferous and energetic encouragement to one of their less-gifted gym-mates, Kevin Adamson, who was stumbling towards a painful points defeat and probable retirement. The "club" ethos, which Ingle works so hard to nourish, binds his boys as closely as the tape and wrapping which still covered Rhodes's fists.

Ingle and the promoter Frank Warren are convinced that Rhodes can emulate his friend by winning a world title before his 22nd birthday, and supporting evidence is accumulating. But I would question the choice of target: the World Boxing Organisation champion, Steve Collins, two weight divisions up at super-middle and a world ahead in hard experience.

Collins himself regards Rhodes's challenge with the amused tolerance a Labrador might show towards a fox terrier yapping at his ankles. "Tell him to go away and beat somebody his own age," was the 32-year-old Irishman's post-fight comment, while Ingle said: "I've told Steve that Rhodes is the boy who's going to beat him, but he just laughed and said: 'If the money's there, then let's find out.'"

There is surely a world title waiting for Rhodes, but there are a great many softer options than the rugged Dubliner, whose priority is a showdown with the International Boxing Federation champion, Roy Jones, on which he has set a $5m price tag. Rhodes, who fights with Hamed's mixture of bewildering unorthodoxy and stunning power, has unlimited potential but there is still a long way to go before fighting him becomes worth $5m. His early fights were at middleweight, before Ingle brought him down to 11 stones when the chance arose of a British title fight in December, but he is at an age of rapid physical growth and it is unlikely that he can hold the light-middleweight limit for more than the one defence he needs to win the Belt outright.

After that, a challenge for Neville Brown's British middleweight title would have its attractions, even if it would sorely test the celebrated Wincobank esprit de corps: Brown is also trained by Ingle.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all