SHEFFIELD boxer Ryan Rhodes’ dreams of winning the world title in Mexico came to an end early today, writes digital editor Graham Walker.
He was knocked down in the fourth then stopped in the twelfth and final round by young WBC light-middleweight champ Saul Alvarez - who he acknowledged as the new “superstar of world boxing”.
Rhodes, aged 34, who also hit the canvas when he was pushed in the seventh round, was losing heavily on points to the 20-year-old fight sensation.
He never stopped coming forward though and won over the 12,000 Mexican fight fans with his lion heart as he refused give up.
His best performance was probably in the penultimate eleventh reound, but by then he knew he had to knock out the Mexican pin-up to win.
And in his bid to find a winning punch he left himself exposed to a barrage of body shots, which led the referee stop the fight in the dying seconds - just as trainer David Coldwell threw in the towel,
Rhodes is still European champion and will now consider his future, but he’s unlikely to retire.
He paird tribute to Alvarez, nicknamed Canelo because of his red hair, and said: “Probably I had under estimated his strength and power. He’s a strong young kid - I was beaten tonight by a superstar of world boxing.
“His body shots took their toll on me through the fight. Then he caught me with a couple of good body shots in that final round.
“I just couldn’t get out of the way and the referee stopped it.
“But yes, he caught me with too many body shots.
“I was able to take the head shots but the body shots seemed to take their toll on me.”
Trainer Coldwell said: “I’m so proud of Ryan. It’s been a pleasure to work with him over the past six years. Who would have thought we would have got this far.”
Rhodes, who went into the fight super confident, wasn’t ever relying on a points decision to win the title from Alvarez. His game plan was always to win by knock-out in front of in front of 12,000 screaming Mexicans at the Arena VFG in Guadalajara.
The odds were always heavily against him, with a 14-year age gap, fighting at 5,200 feet and in the tough Mexican’s own backyard.
And Alvarez, who turned professional aged just 15, gave a master-class in boxing with a maturity ahead of his years as he dominated virtually every round, dodging and defended everything Rhodes could throw at him - then countering with his signature move of fast body and head shot combinations.
The young champ is now reported to have a £40 million fight purse lined up for next spring against Filipino idol Manny Pacquaio, generally regarded as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
For a full analysis of the fight, reaction and more see The Star tomorrow, Monday, June 20.
The fight is being shown by delayed transmission on Sky Sports 3 today, Sunday, at 10am.