SHEFFIELD boxer Ryan Rhodes is planning to be on the first plane out of Mexico with the world title belt on Sunday morning - watch his exclusive video call from Mexico.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch digital editor Graham Walker’s video chat with Ryan direct from his hotel.
Rhodes says he believes he won’t be the most hated man in Mexico this weekend - even though he vows to knock out their WBC world champ Saul Alvarez.
It would be a major upset for the Mexican poster boy, nicknamed Canelo because of his red hair, who is being groomed for greatness, including a £40million showdown next year against legendary Filipino Manny Pacquiao.
The 20-year-old is already a Mexican superstar, their boxing equivalent of David Beckham, plastered all over newspapers, magazines and television.
But Rhodes, aged 34 and facing his toughest ever challenge, says he’s also been embraced by Mexican fight fans during his training there for the past fortnight and he believes they will still respect him when he beats their idol on Saturday night.
Yet he’s taking no chances. He’s planning a very quick get-away.
“I’m on the flight home first thing Sunday morning - with the belt under my arm,’’ he beamed, as he spoke from his hotel room in a FaceTime video chat on his iPad.
“To be fair, because the Mexican people are boxing fans they respect every fighter and when I beat Canello on Saturday night I think they’ll respect me just as much.
“It’s being regarded as an absolutely massive sporting event. I’ve come to realise over here how big a superstar Alvarez really is. He’s on everything.
“But the Mexican people love their boxing.
“They’ve been really hospitable - the reception I’ve had has been amazing, stopping me for photos everywhere I go. Some of them even want me to win. They’ve been saying to me, ‘you win, you win’.
“So when I do win Saturday night I think I’ll still get a good reception.”
It’s his third tilt at a world title - he lost on points against Otis Grant in 1997 then Gary Lockett in 2006 - but that was for the WBU then WBU middleweight titles. He has never lost at light-middleweight and Alvarez has never faced such a big and experienced opponent, he says.
Alvarez, a class up from any previous opponent, is the bright new star in Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy stable.
Despite the 14-year age gap and having to fight in the tough Mexican’s own backyard, at an altitude of 5,138 feet in scorching heat, Rhodes is super confident he has the power, fitness and experience to upset the party and see off the red menace at the Arena VFG in Guadalajara.
Rhodes, who has won 45 of his 49 fights with 31 knock outs, said: “I’m expecting to knock this kid out. I’m not expecting any favours from the judges out here, so I know what I’ve got to do.
“Whether it will be with the left or right hand I don’t know - I can punch with either hand. But I’m looking to knock him out. It’s all about winning on Saturday night. Nothing else has entered my head. I’ve been thinking about nothing else but a win. I’m 100 per cent focused on winning.”
* Rhodes is due to fight around 4am on Sunday. Get the big fight result as it happens here online. Also See The Star on Monday and The Sheffield Telegraph next week for a full report, reaction and more. Highlights of the fight are on Sky Sports 3 on Sunday at 10am.
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