Ryan Rhodes can win world title, says Gary Lockett

By Nabil HassanBBC SPORT
Gary Lockett and Ryan Rhodes
Southpaw Rhodes turned pro in 1995 and has had 49 fights

Gary Lockett believes Ryan Rhodes can cause a major shock when he faces WBC champion Saul Alvarez on Saturday and return to Sheffield a world champion.

Lockett, the last man to beat Rhodes, believes the 34-year-old can defeat the unbeaten Mexican on his own turf and claim the light-middleweight title.

"I've seen this guy box a couple of times and it's not an impossible task for Ryan," said Welshman Lockett.

"In fact I'll be placing bet on him, Ryan can definitely pull it off."

Rhodes has suffered only four defeats in his 49-fight career and has fought for the world title once before [the vacant WBO middleweight title], when he was beaten on points by Otis Grant in 1999.

The European champion, who is undefeated at 154lb, enters the bout in Guadalajara in confident mood and on the back of a 10-fight winning streak, with his last loss that fight against Lockett in 2006, which was for the fringe WBU middleweight belt.

Rhodes, who started out at Sheffield's famous Brendan Ingle gym in Wincobank, is convinced he will return home to the steel city a world champion.

"Training has gone really well," Rhodes told BBC Sport.

"I haven't done that much differently. I've put 100% effort into what I'm doing and I've never trained so hard or been so fit for a fight."

The Yorkshireman flew out to Mexico on 1 June to acclimatise to the warm weather and high altitude as well as put the final touches to his pre-fight preparation.

He has spent the past six weeks at his gym in Rotherham, under the watchful eyes of conditioner Mark Willie and trainer Dave Coldwell, sparring with Birmingham welterweight Curtis Woodhouse and Liverpool super-middleweight Paul Smith.

Alvarez, 20, is already a veteran of 37 fights having turned pro at the age of 15. His only blemish is a draw in his fifth fight in 2005.

But despite his fearsome record Rhodes says he has no worries about facing the boxer Oscar de la Hoya calls one of 'the brightest young prospects in the sport'.

Rhodes also revealed how he recently spoke to Matthew Hatton [who lost to Alvarez in March] about what he is likely to expect from the Mexican.

Saul Alvarez
Alvarez is unbeaten in 36 fights

"I know his strategy, his strengths and his weaknesses and I'm ready," added Rhodes.

The Yorkshireman, who has never boxed outside of the United Kingdom, also says he has no fears about facing Alvarez on his home turf.

"I'm very, very excited about going to his home town and fighting in front of his home fans, 15,000 screaming Mexicans, and taking his title," says Rhodes.

Lockett, who lost in a world title bid against Kelly Pavlik in 2008, added of Rhodes' chances of glory: "I don't think Alvarez has faced anyone with Ryan's power before.

"If he gets a good start and doesn't get overawed by the crowd then I think he has a very good chance of coming away with the WBC title."

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