RICKY Hatton believes Sheffield’s Ryan Rhodes will become the city’s next world champion - and also give his own family some measure of revenge.
Hatton’s brother Matthew was beaten by Mexican Saul Alvarez in California in March. Now Rhodes is training hard to restore Hatton family honour; but more importantly relieve Alvarez of his WBC light middleweight title.
The Ecclesfield man goes head to head with the South American at the VFG Arena in Guadalajara, Mexico on Saturday June 18. Fighting in his opponent’s back yard, Rhodes, 34, is seen as the underdog against an unbeaten boxer 14-years his junior.
But Hatton predicts a “stunning upset” is on the cards, saying his brother’s step up from welterweight was his undoing against the man who bears the odd nickname ‘Cinnamon.’
He added: “My brother Matthew showed that Alvarez can be hit, but unfortunately that night, he just was not big enough.
“I expect that Ryan, who is a natural light-middleweight, will come through and become Hatton Promotions’ first World Champion.”
Hatton’s company says it has forged a working relationship with the world’s number one promoters Golden Boy (founded by Oscar de la Hoya in Los Angeles) and the alliance will lead to major title chances for many of their fighters, including Rhodes.
Gareth Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Hatton Promotions, said: “We have had a great working relationship with Golden Boy for years and it is great to be working with them again.
“I hope Ryan will build on the performance from Matthew Hatton and become the first of hopefully many Hatton Promotions world champions.”
Rhodes, has been a professional for 16 years since he was guided as a youngster by Brendan Ingle. Among the titles he has won are British and European light-middleweight championships.
When he won the domestic crown, in December 1996 with an eighth round stoppage of former WBO champion Paul Jones, he had just celebrated his 20th birthday and is still the youngest ever British champion.
In October 2009, he was involved in a sensational battle against Jamie Moore, winning by a seveth round TKO to become a worthy European champion.
Rhodes boasts an impressive 45-4 record, but has never lost at light-middleweight. All four defeats came when he stepped up to the middleweight division.
He is currently on a 10 fight winning streak – eight of them coming inside the distance.