Boxing: Rhodes revved up for Mexican stand-off
Ryan Rhodes will try against staggering odds to win the World Boxing Council light-middleweight belt tonight when he fights the unbeaten Mexican Saul Alvarez, who is 20, the biggest star in Mexican boxing and fighting in front of 15,000 of his hometown-fans at altitude in Guadalajara.
Rhodes, now 34, was just 20 and looked 13 when he was known as Spice Boy and first won the British light-middleweight title in 1996. He still holds the record for being the youngest British champion.
"It's been a long road to get here and it's not getting any easier," said Rhodes. "This fight is the most difficult of my career but I have no fear because of where I'm from and the gyms I've been in; people think I'm mad for taking this but I think I would have been mad for saying no."
Rhodes is a product of Brendan Ingle's boxing gym high on a hill in Wincobank on the outskirts of Sheffield. He was a major part of the gym, studying at the enigmatic Ingle's knee, from about eight years of age and shared thousands of rounds with his oldest friend, Naseem Hamed.
"Everybody inside that gym believed they could take on the world and win," said Rhodes. "I remember being with Naz when he was up against great fighters and he would be desperate to get in and fight – I'm still like that. This is my ideal fight."
Alvarez is unbeaten in 37 fights, turned professional at 15 and has slowly become a major attraction with his heavy-fisted style. However, he has struggled against proper light-middleweights and his best wins have been in fights with welterweights; Rhodes is not just a full light middleweight, he is a big light middleweight.
Alvarez's promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who is convinced his man can become the next Mexican sensation, said: "Saul looks like an Irishman, acts like an American and fights like a Mexican." Rhodes said at a press conference: "That's good – but has he ever been to Sheffield?"
Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband
Do you qualify – and how do you get it?
The Mayor of London's sister, Rachel Johnson, apologises for shocking tweet about the PM
Latest in Sport
Phil Hughes head injury: Cricket world reels as Australian opener fights for his life
Sam Wallace: Players of Suarez’s standing just don’t sign for clubs like Liverpool
Phil Hughes injury: Batsman had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him
Manchester City vs Bayern Munich comment: Frank Lampard's part in City win shows folly of letting him leave
Manchester City vs Bayern Munich: Nasri admits City stars will be sold if they fail in Europe
- 1 Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
- 2 Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 5 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
£50000 - £60000 per annum + £80,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...
£40000 per annum + OTE £55,000 +Pension : h2 Recruit Ltd: An excellent opportu...
£10000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Investment consultancy firm sp...
£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is recr...