Alvarez v Rhodes – You’ve Either Got it…or you ain’t!!
By Neil Goodman: Question: who has the longest unbeaten run in British boxing? John Murray? Perhaps, Kell Brooke? Well, this is a bit of a trick question; but at 154lbs Ryan Rhodes in undefeated in 40 plus fights!
Article posted on 18.06.2011
Without doubt this is an impressive run and Rhodes last tasted defeat nearly five years ago. Rewind to 2006 and Rhodes found himself in a similar position to his WBC title shot against Alvarez. Going into the bout with WBU Champ Gary Lockett, Rhodes was the underdog and many felt he had reached the end of the line.
Whilst Rhodes did indeed lose the fight, it was close on the scorecards and rather than it be his chin which let him down; it was in fact Lockett who found himself on the canvas. The bout against Lockett actually transpired to be the turning point in Ryan’s career. Rhodes rededicated himself to the sport, changed trainers and drilled his body down to the confines of the light middleweight division.
The fruits of his labour have been there for all to see and the hard punching switch-hitter finds himself with an unexpected chance of a lifetime and crucially is in the form of his career. Wins over Gary Woolcombe, Messi and in particularly Jamie Moore have shown there is still life in the ‘Old’ Spice Boy!!
The echoes of Herol Graham’s last world title shot are difficult to ignore. Graham was also pitched in against a younger, bit hitting opponent, on foreign shores. So, will Rhodes chances fair any better?
Firstly, it is totally understandable why Alvarez is the betting favourite to retain his title. However, in some quarters Rhodes is being written off as a ‘no-hoper’. I do find this stance very difficult to comprehend and I will tell you why.
Whilst I have not seen many Alvarez fights, having turned pro at 15, I fully suspect he has been protected and handed more than his fair share of ‘road sweepers’ to knock-over. More recently he was wobbled by the much smaller Jose Miguel Cotto and he also found the fast hands of Matthew Hatton at times difficult to deal with.
Alvarez has obvious hitting power, but he does not seem to be getting the job done with one shot. He puts his shots, both to body and head, together well and is undefeated in 36 contests (26 wins via KO). Alvarez now finds himself still with the L-Plates attached, in with his first true 154lb opponent. Rhodes can be elusive, box and bang, but unlike his old stable mate Naz, he has managed to develop a defence to compliment his offensive gifts.
In terms of a prediction; I find myself with a heart over head dilemma! If the fight was not in Mexico (this will be Rhodes first bout overseas), then I think there would be greater sense of optimism for a Brit win. The key components will be; how well does Alvarez cope with the Rhodes power shots? The Rhodes camp has to concern about matching and hanging with the younger mans work rate during the close rounds.
Whilst I think Alvarez will retain his title; in process I think we will also find out a lot more about how far the ‘New Golden’ can go. But I definitely see this being a two horse race right up to the final 2 or 3 rounds.
Neil Goodman (Goodnr10@yahoo.co.uk)
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