Boxing exclusive: Ryan Rhodes' insight into the Kell Brook v Siarhei Rabchanka fight in Sheffield
Five years ago, Siarhei Rabchanka caught Ryan Rhodes just at the right time - and in the right place.
Now he is hoping to do the same to Kell Brook. Today Rhodes previews the newly-announced Brook v Rabchanka contest, scheduled for Sheffield Arena, on March 3.
Ryan Rhodes was no longer the ‘Spice Boy’ when Siarhei Rabchanka stopped him, effectively ending a golden career.
At a mature 36 years of age, the Sheffield veteran was still slick, canny and dangerous - but had also just gone past his best.
Now Rabchanka is back on the scene - and desperate to break the heart of another Sheffield’s fight-favourite, Kell Brook.
They compete in March in a debut for Brook at light middleweight.
The speculation had been that Brook would face a Brit - possibly Sam Eggington or Ashley Theopane.
Arguably, a domestic fight would have given his come-back a bit more edge.
But Rabchanka, who has fought only once since 2016, appeared in the frame.
“I was a little bit surprised at that announcement” said Rhodes, who now has his own fight stable out of Shalesmoor.
“I felt he’d gone off the scene a bit after he got beat in Australia. I have not seen much of him since he lost that one to Anthony Mundine (2014.) It was on a close decision but his other defeat to Tony Harrison (2016) when he was stopped - well, neither were against very special kids.
“But they (Matchroom, promoters) are just testing the waters at light middleweight, in what is Kell’s comeback fight after two losses.”
Rabchanka is a former European and WBC silver champion - but is he past his best?
“I think he is an OK fighter but nothing special.
“The last kid he fought (Siarhei Krapshyla) had a won four lost 18 record.
“And the one before that (Robizoni Omsarashvili) had won 25 lost 13.
“So Rabchanka has not been making big waves out there in his last two fights...against basic kids.”
Rhodes, though made an unusual observation: “Kell is coming back off two losses and who knows what that has done to Kell, mentally?
“You hear stories that he struggles to be motivated for some fights, Rabchanka is not Gennady Golovkin or Spence, so a lot of questions will be answered in this one.”
RHODES V RABCHANKA - the final fight.
Rhodes recalls: “It was a vacant European title, in 2012.
“I felt fine during that fight, he wasn’t stronger than me, I always knew exactly what he was going to do in the fight.
“He was pretty heavy-handed but not a massive puncher.
“He had hit me with some decent shots but he hadn’t wobbled me.
“Then he caught me with a body shot and took the wind out of my sails. I tried to continue but I had nothing left in me.”
Before the fight, Rhodes had been privately been concerned that his counter-punching timing - which he heavily relied on - was slightly out of kilter, as age was setting in.
So he made the decision to retire after defeat to the man from Minsk.
“I’d had 18 years as a professional, I’d had a great career, but he got me at the right time.
“He was fresh unbeaten and making a lot of noise. But that was then, not now. Against Kell - he’s not the same man now. I am backing Kell to win this.”