EVERY part of Ryan Rhodes’ upper body will feel as if it’s been run over by Supertram, this morning.
And while the cuts and bruises will mend, the Sheffield light-middleweight’s broken heart will take longer to heal.
For his 12-round TKO defeat to a ginger wrecking ball called Saul Alvarez, in Mexico in the early hours yesterday represented more than just the loss of a chance to crown a fine, 16-year career with a world title.
Rhodes, at 34, lost so comprehensively to a 20-year-old, that it felt like watching a teacher being schooled by his pupil. There were echoes of Sheffielder Herrol Graham’s defeat in the IBF super-middleweight clash in the US against Charles Brewer, in 1998.
Graham, then 39, lost to a 10-years-younger Philadelphia rival on US soil – ending the elder man’s career.
Yesterday, Rhodes, who was introduced to boxing by Graham, was never in with a chance to deprive stocky, heavy-handed champion Alvarez of his WBC crown .
Today, Rhodes says he wants to continue in the sport. Yet such was the one-sided nature of the defeat that questions inevitably will need to be answered about the Ecclesfield man’s future at this level.
The fact Rhodes arrives home today a rumoured £100,000 richer will be of little comfort after being bullied, beaten and dominated on his overseas debut.
The only consolation is that there is no shame in being beaten by this Hispanic Hitman, who could go on to dominate world boxing in several different divisions.
Rhodes, the underdog, started his 236th round of paid-fighting in the clammy, sub tropical heat of the Arena VFC in Guadalajara, his opponent’s home town.
Fighting at an elevation of 5,138 feet, Rhodes looked as fresh as a daisy as the pair got off to a cautious start.
But after the opening exchanges, Alvarez established a regime that was to be the hallmark of the entire contest.
Firstly, it became obvious that the pale boy boxer who turned pro at 15 to become world champion in March was the stronger, more varied and unerringly accurate.
Too many salvoes got through Rhodes’ guard during relentless periods of pressure.
Southpaw Rhodes’ initial plan to try and confuse the Mexican by starting each round in orthodox stance and then switching had absolutely zero impact.
The Yorkshireman had planned to assess Alvarez in the opening rounds and then move on to an eventual KO. Yet, he failed to land any worthwhile punches that might have forced a change in “El Canelo’s” own game-plan.
The fourth round was almost disastrous as a left to Rhodes’ head followed by a right to his temple saw him plunge to the canvas, although, in fairness, he was up and ready to continue instantly. Alvarez’s lightning jab, cruel uppercuts and thunderous right continue to take their toll and it was round six before the visitor showed any real assertive qualities.
Despite that improved showing, a mark appeared under Rhodes’ right eye, which opened up during further punishment in the seventh.
Rhodes was also pushed to the floor as Alvarez controlled the centre of the ring.
In round eight, a sponsor’s tag was hanging limply off Rhodes’ short and it was a ragged, unpleasant round all round with trouble breaking out in one area of the sell-out 12,000 seater stadium.
That crowd trouble re-surfaced in the ninth but Rhodes will have been unaware of it as he tried in vain to dodge some hideous body shots.
With both eyes now showing signs of damage, the Mexican moved in for the stoppage.
The end came with a simultaneous moment where trainer Dave Coldwell correctly threw in the towel as Panamanian referee Hector Afu moed in to stop Rhodes, effectively, from being beaten up.
The defeat means that Rhodes’ attempts to climb the pinnacle of his sport has ended just short of the summit.
It’s hard to see him now joining the ranks of other British word champions Amir Khan, David Haye, Carl Froch, Nathan Cleverly and Ricky Burns.
Fourteen years ago, Rhodes was, perhaps, a mirror image of Alvarez of today.
It’s been a hell of a journey and Sheffield should be proud of its loveable warrior.
There may even be domestic or European fights ahead, a date with Matthew Hatton would be an interesting spectacle.
But sadly, he knows he is no match for Alvarez. And while the Sheffield veteran is pondering his next strategy closer to home, the Mexican will be targeting the likes of Miguel Angel Cotto and Antonio Maragarito.