Ryan praises a ‘fighting city’ fans can be proud of

Proud as punch:  Ryan Rhodes aims to bounce back from this WBC defeat to Saul  Alvarez.
Proud as punch: Ryan Rhodes aims to bounce back from this WBC defeat to Saul Alvarez.
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RYAN RHODES dodged the question as swiftly as if it was a jab heading for his chin.

“Who is the top boxer in Sheffield, now?” The Star asked him, rather unwisely.

Clinton Woods has retired, Junior Witter has drifted to the margins and Rhodes blew a WBC world title chance in June.

Does that mean Rhodes’ pal Kell Brook - entertaining the media along with Carl Froch in a “media workout” at the EIS today - is now top dog?

“I am not even going to answer that” flashed Rhodes, with a look which ensured we wouldn’t ask again.

“Junior is still there, Kell is doing an absolutely fantastic job and on the verge of fighting for a world title, I’m fighting for my European title, hopefully, in March April next year. So there are lots of us doing well.

“Sheffield has got a lot of talent with boxers on the scene and a lot of talent coming through: we have a good fighting city.”

Rhodes says some of the new generation will be on the undercard of his bill (v Siarhei Khomitski) at Rotherham’s Magna Centre on November 26. “Jerome Wilson, who trains in our gym, will be on fire, I’m sure, in two weeks time. Nav Mansouri is another to watch. Then there is the little kid, Abdul Barry Awad, he looks really good. He impresses me every time.

“Awad says wants to be bigger than Kell Brook! What he want and what he gets might be two different things. But if he is telling himself that then fair play to the kid, let him do that and hopefully will produce the goods.”

You get the feeling Rhodes is certainly not ready to be overtaken by anybody in his own city, though. “I am still loving the game although I am 35 next Sunday - it will be slippers and pipe, telling my kids to turn music down! Really, I still feel young. I love keeping up with the younger kids and doing the best I can. I’ll continue push myself in the gym and train hard.”