A TECHNIQUE fashioned back in 1995 can propel Ryan Rhodes towards a modern-day European title belt, this weekend.
Sheffield’s veteran light middleweight learned his early counter-punching skills at the Ingle gym that fashioned his career some 17 years ago.
Now under the training regime of Dave Coldwell, he feels his defensive abilities have improved to make him a more complete package and provide the platform to beat Belarussian Sergey Rabchenko at Manchester on Saturday to reclaim the European title he last owned two years ago.
Rhodes, 35, is mature enough to know that boxing on the back foot may be the most efficient way of handling 26-year-old KO merchant Rabchenko.
“He will want to take the fight to me from the first bell” says the stylist who will be embarking on his 52nd paid scrap.
“Counter-punching is one of my best weapons and one I learned back in the day. I will take a look at him in the first round and then, while he is coming after me, I will start picking him off. He is an ideal opponent for me because I will find a leak in his defence and make him pay.”
The Ecclesfield boxer recognises the scale of the task awaiting him at the Velodrome: “He is an aggressive, strong fighter who has got rid of 15 of the 20 opponents he’s been up against. He can punch and my defence will be tested.
“I know I will have to stay focused every minute.
“But over the last four or five years my defence has improved a heck of a lot. Dave drills into me the importance of keeping my hands up high and my chin down.”
Rhodes credits Coldwell for playing a significant role, generally, in his preparation for the fight against an explosive foe who rarely has to go the distance.
“As usual he has been watching video after video into the small hours as he comes up with a plan for me to win.
“We didn’t learn much from Rabchenko’s last video - the fight only lasted 20 seconds (the Easter European floored Ronny Gabel at Ponds Forge with a left hook to the body.)
“But we’ve seen the 12 rounder he had against Bradley Pryce last year and that and other clips have helped us research all angles and come up with a game plan that I will execute on Saturday.”
Rhodes aims to smash his rival’s unbeaten record.