Sheffield’s Ryan Rhodes emerged from a British fight of the year contender to win the European Light-Middleweight crown from Salford’s blue collar hero, Jamie Moore tonight in seven pulsating rounds.
In the performance of his career Ryan Rhodes has shed the nearly man tag and extinguished any doubts over his chin, resolve and stomach for the toughest fights. The fight ebbed and flowed but Rhodes seemingly suicidal decision to fight in Jamie’s domain, rather than box on the outside, appeared in hindsight to be an exceptional tactical decision.
Rhodes revealing in the post fight interview with the always excellent Ed Robinson, that he changed from the pre-fight game plan to conserve energy and try and draw the worst of Moore in the meantime. A big gamble but one which began to pay dividends around the 4th round as Moore looked to have lost the confidence which characterised his early work in the fight.
A rising right hook began the finish, early in the seventh Moore slumped to the canvas, looking emptied by the shot but as late as the count of seven his head cleared and the legs were strong as he rose to Howard Foster’s count. And such is Moore’s drive he actually forced Rhodes back as the Sheffield man seemed to avoid the mistake of over-exerting in trying to knock out the champion.
In a curious twist, it was Moore who over-exerted in trying to fight back and left his chin out for an over the top right which Rhodes duly delivered and landed a series of follow up punches to drive Moore close to the canvas as Foster dove in.
Rhodes now has the tantalising prospect of shots at either Julio Cesar Chavez Junior or WBC champion Sergio Martinez. He will fancy either, but whether he has the connections to get either in the ring, remains to be seen. At least one defence of the European belt looks entirely more likely and for Moore the suggestion of a move to Middleweight looks possible. Moore, in his typically admirable style refused to acknowledge any reason for his defeat other than Rhodes supremacy on the night.
But for now, our thanks to both for a sensational fight and for taking the match, the conducted themselves with characteristic dignity and are a fine advertisement for all that is good in the sport.