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Rabchenko stops Rhodes in seven

Image: Sergey Rabchenko tags Ryan Rhodes (Pic leighdawneyphotography.com)

Sergey Rabchenko won the vacant European light-middleweight title when he stopped Ryan Rhodes in the seventh round in Manchester.

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Belarusian remains unbeaten and claims European title

Sergey Rabchenko won the vacant European light-middleweight title when he stopped Ryan Rhodes in the seventh round in Manchester. Sheffield veteran Rhodes knew this was probably his last chance to make a statement on a global scale, but the unbeaten Rabchenko was a big hurdle to overcome and so it proved. The Belarusian, trained in Manchester by Ricky Hatton, immediately took the centre of the ring as Rhodes assumed a familiar position on the outside, looking to make his opponent miss at every opportunity. Rabchenko had the better of the first, making a statement of intent with a sweet right hand and some sharp lefts for good measure. Rhodes was better in the next though, coming out more aggressively and looking really sharp as he switch-hit to good effect. The third could have changed everything, a massive right hand landing flush on Rabchenko's jaw, staggering the 26-year-old from Minsk. But he was quickly back in the groove, forcing the pace very much in the style of his trainer. Rabchenko was doing all the graft while Rhodes continually tried to make him miss and land with solitary counters, the long left a class shot from the Sheffield man.

Aggressor

The fight was prettty much even though at halfway in this game of chess, with the punch stats showing Rhodes landing a higher percentage of blows despite his opponent being the more obvious aggressor. It all changed in the seventh though, as Rabchenko closed down the angles and landed a short left to Rhodes' head, cutting him above the left eye. The Briton was unhurt but as he threw a left moments later Rabchenko landed what appeared to be a glancing body shot, but one which had Rhodes taking a knee. In obvious pain, the veteran rose but the referee stopped the count at seven with the former European champion in no state to continue - evidenced by Rhodes crumpling to the canvas once more. At 35 Rhodes appears to have knowhere to go, but he refused to accept the sixth defeat of his career means the end. "If you get caught in the right place with a body shot it's over," he told Sky Sports. "He caught me with a brilliant body shot, if you get caught there it's over. "I felt good, I felt like I was making him miss, I wobbled him in the third round but he's got a good chin, there was no point wading in and trying to finish him there and then. "I felt I was ahead in the fight, but it's one of them things I got caught with a very good body shot. It was nothing to do with age, I felt fantastic in training, I just got caught with the best body shot in my entire life. "I feel like I've still got a lot to give in the game, we'll sit down and see where we go from here but this isn't the end of Ryan Rhodes."

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