Rhodes' timely punch ushers in a fresh era

Harry Mullan sees an old warrior suffer and a new talent show his promise

There is a pleasing continuity about boxing: a new star emerges as an old one fades, the handover as effortless as a well executed baton change in a relay. But it is rarely done so smoothly as in Sheffield on Saturday night. Ryan Rhodes a 20-year-old prodigy from Brendan Ingle's academy, became the youngest British champion for 57 years. Less than an hour earlier, Dennis Andries, a three-times World Boxing Council light- heavyweight champion, failed in his bid to become Britain's oldest-ever title holder.

Andries' exact age has long been a matter of speculation, mischievously encouraged by the fighter himself, but the consensus is that he was born in Guyana somewhere between 43 and 48 years ago. The latter figure looked the more believable on Saturday, as Rhodes' stable-mate, Johnny Nelson, administered an embarrassingly one- sided beating to regain the British cruiserweight title which he had relinquished six years ago.

The veteran had nothing to offer except a dogged resilience and an occasional crude, lunging right, only two of which connected cleanly in the six and a half rounds which elapsed before the referee, John Keane, compassionately spared Andries further suffering in a lost cause.

In the past Andries' capacity for endurance has carried him to some famous victories, notably his world title wins in America and Australia, when he was able to absorb everything the opposition threw at him and then grind them down remorselessly. That never looked like happening against Nelson, who has had more strenuous work-outs on the heavy bag.

Andries has his troubles outside the ring as the Inland Revenue hound him towards bankruptcy, and there is a danger that even this conclusive defeat will not be enough to dissuade him from seeking another couple of paydays. "I'll think about it" was as far as he would go towards a retirement announcement which, given his age and the total eradication of what skills he once had, cannot be long delayed.

He has served British boxing nobly for 18 years, and one hopes that the Board of Control secretary, John Morris, a long-time friend and admirer, will have a quiet word in his ear.

If Andries' future is limited, Rhodes' glows with bright promise. The right hook with which he flattened former World Boxing Organisation champion, Paul "Silky" Jones, in the eighth round of their bout for the vacant light- middleweight title was a punch of world-class potential, particularly as he produced it at a point when the fight was in danger of slipping away from him.

Inventiveness under pressure is one of the hallmarks of a quality fighter, and Rhodes showed it in the final stages of a fight which, until then, had been tense rather than exciting. Jones stepped up his pace at the beginning of the eighth, and there were signs that the youngster, his nose bleeding, might be floundering. But then Rhodes caught him with a right hook, and as Jones clowned, doing a pretend wobble, Rhodes feinted a left and brought over the second, crushing hook which sent Jones sprawling face first.

It was Rhodes' 12th straight win, and already there are mutterings about world title opportunities next year. If that sounds premature, remember Naseem Hamed won his first title, the European bantamweight championship, after the same number of fights.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Recruitment Genius: Partner Manager - EMEA

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partner Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Sales Manager - OTE £100,000

£45000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Sales Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company provides IT support...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific