Ryan Rhodes: “I am ready and can beat any light middle or middleweight in Britain!”
Interview by Spud Woollatt (January 7, 2005)
Time and time again boxing fans have identified fighters who are going places, you know "Boxing's BIG Time"! How many of us have been caught out? The fighter who we thought was only one step away is defeated, then, immediately assigned to boxing's scrapheap. How many of those fighters have the guts and determination to come back from a loss, not just once, but on three separate occasions in order to prove the doubters wrong?
Doghouseboxing.com caught up with one such boxer, Sheffield’s Ryan Rhodes.
Ryan made his debut at the age of 19. Less than two years into his career, and having fought only ten times, in his 11th fight Rhodes found himself contesting the British title and winning it with an eighth round stoppage of Paul "Silky" Jones. Rhodes’ rapid progression continued. After securing the Lonsdale belt outright in record time, Rhodes squared off against Canadian Otis Grant for the WBO middleweight Title. Though the youngster acquitted himself well against his seasoned opponent, he conceded a close decision after twelve spirited rounds. Still relatively fresh at the end of it, Rhodes admitted that he had left too much in the tank due to his previous concerns about boxing in a 12-round fight against a world class opponent.
Ryan was then given another chance in 1999, when he was paired with Jason Matthews for the vacant WBO middleweight Title. But in one of the biggest domestic shocks of that year, Matthews stunningly knocked out Rhodes in two rounds.
Determined to bounce back, Rhodes hit the comeback trail but was stunningly derailed by Lee Blundell in three rounds at the famous British venue, The York Hall Bethnal Green in March 2002. However, as far as Rhodes is concerned that is where the "hard luck" stories about him as a professional boxer end. Using Rhodes’ words: "I am ready in 2005 to take on any light middleweight or middleweight in Britain. I determined to prove I have the qualities it takes to become a good champion. I will prove the doubters wrong, every one of them."
This is what Rhodes had to say ...
Q: Spud: Hello Ryan, nice to speak to you again. Have you got some time to talk to doghouseboxing.com?
RR: Of course Spud, fire away.
Spud: Before we discuss your current situation, can you tell us where and when you started boxing?
RR: I was as young as 6 years old. I have always belonged to the Wincobank Gym in Sheffield. I started my career there and will always be there.
Spud: How many amateur bouts did you have, and which one did you remember most?
RR: I had about 67 bouts, I think I lost 14 of them. One of the fights I remember most was the one against Junior Witter. It was probably my hardest fight and I won it! (much laughter as Witter is from Rhodes gym in Sheffield).
Spud : As you say you have been at the Wincobank gym for the entirety of your career, what is it about the place which has made you stay?
RR: The reason why I have stayed is firstly because the training regime has always been right for me. Brendan (Ingle), Dominic and John (sons of Brendan Ingle) have been fantastic as well. Brendan has always been superb to me and the lads, he used to take us all to the top amateur and professional shows which in turn helped us all gain much needed experience of what it was like to box in packed venues.
But with Brendan it was not just him being a trainer, he has always been there for advice on life. He is always ready to help any of his fighters with life’s problems. Dominic and John Ingle are exactly the same as their father as well.
Spud: You started your professional career with a win against Lee Crocker in 1995, then progressed rapidly to eventually fight for the world middleweight title against Otis Grant. Do you think that fight came too soon for you?
RR: No I don’t. I was well prepared for the fight. The only problem was, I became conscious of having to actually fight 12 rounds for the first time against a genuine world class operator in Otis. I knew for whatever reason the fight was going to go the full distance, so foolishly I held back slightly for the first half of the fight, so when I realised I had plenty left, I went for it but it was too late. But even with that said, I only lost that fight by two points on two of the judges’ scorecards and only a point on the other.
Spud: I really do not mean to be negative but what went wrong in the Jason Matthews fight?
RR: The big problem in that fight is that I went into it thinking all I had to do was turn up to win. How wrong I was. I made a very silly mistake, all I can do is influence the future, I can’t change the past.
Spud: You have had a number of short periods out of the sport, but in recent fights I really do feel you have been excellent in your performances albeit against inferior opposition. How do you feel about your recent fights?
RR: It means a lot for you to say that, Spud. No matter who the boxer is he always needs encouragement from those around him and fans throughout the sport, so genuine praise means a lot to me. With regards to my recent performances, people should look at Paul Wesley's record for instance and who he fought and beat. I know he was past his best when I fought him, but I was still convincing in stopping him. Look at the opposition he has been in with: Omar Sheika, Howard Eastman, Sam Soliman, and in recent times Tony Dodson.
Spud: Many people who follow boxing closely still believe you could have a big say certainly on the domestic scene and possibly even at European Level. But at what weight do you want to fight at?
RR: I really would love to fight at light middleweight and I know I could make the weight as well. I only moved up to middleweight because I got the chance against Otis Grant. I keep thinking if I fought for the world title at the lower weight, who knows what could have happened? As a light middle I would still be very strong, fast and big at the weight.
Spud: A straight to the point question, would you fight the current British Champion Michael Jones if the opportunity arose?
RR: Yes of course, Spud. I know I have the beating of him as well.
Spud: What about Middleweight, Ryan? Would you also like to fight the British Champion at that weight, Scott Dann?
RR: I would seriously consider fighting anyone Spud, either at light middleweight or at middle. I am not saying I will constantly swap and change weights, it is just nowadays fighters have to take their opportunities when they come up, so yes I would fight Scott Dann if I was given the chance too.
Spud: What are your plans for 2005?
RR: I just want to stay active. I am like any other boxer, I am at my best when I am kept active. It is no good to anyone fighting twice a year. Fighters can train as much as they want, but it is in the ring being involved in real fights where a fighter shakes off any rust, gains experience and confidence.
Spud: Why haven't you fought since April?
RR: I boxed at Bradford in April then went on holiday to America. When I returned boxing had gone quiet because of the Olympics and the football, so I went about business training getting ready for my opportunity when it came up. Unfortunately I was hit across the head with a bottle and was extremely badly cut. I had to have thirty five stitches in a cut just above my right eyebrow.
The doctors have said the cut has healed very well indeed. I have done absolutely everything medically that has been asked of me including rubbing special creams into the wound amongst other things. Unfortunately it is all trial and error until I am given the green light to spar by the doctors, however I am very confident everything is going to be okay. I am determined 2005 is going to be a good year for me.
Spud: So when will you be ready to fight??
RR: All being well it will be as early as the end of Jan or the beginning of Feb.
Spud: Do you feel you have a future in boxing and do you feel frustrated at your present plight?
RR: Yes. I am watching the likes of Jamie Moore and Michael Jones fight. I mean no disrespect to them, but I can beat them, I know I can, all I need is that opportunity of fighting for another title. I will ensure I grab that opportunity with both hands.
Spud: Are you restricted by any promotional contracts which could get in the way of any possible future fights?
RR: No I am not. I do not have any promotional ties at this moment in time which are restricting me. I will do whatever John Ingle advises me to do. I just want to be kept active which in turn will help me prove my worth.
Spud: Ryan, do you have anything else to say to doghouseboxing.com?
RR: I want to thank everyone who has been there for me. My wife and family, as well as my close friends who have been absolutely fantastic. Also, happy New Year to all of the doghouse readers. We often hear about the discussions which take place on the forums at the gym. And thank you, Spud.
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