© Jane Warburton / Saddo Boxing
Saturday night at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre in Sheffield, England new promoter Hayemaker Boxing hosted it’s first fight-night. The main event of the evening was Ryan Rhodes’s first defence of his second reign as British Light Middleweight titlist against Jamie Coyle of Scotland.
The crowds were noisy as rival Scottish and English fans taunted each other. Rhodes was clearly enjoying the support as he came in to the sports hall. Wearing black and white boxing attire, including skirt-like shorts, Rhodes entered the ring alongside trainer David Coldwell while his 'Lonsdale Belt' was held aloft.
Rhodes got off to a great start, keen to impress - the local man went after Coyle right from the bell. Finding it harder to settle in against his southpaw opponent - Coyle takes a solid body-shot and is ‘shoved’ on to the ropes and at this point, I was thinking this could be an early finish!
A good right punch lands on the face of Coyle and its impact could be clearly heard, but the Scot stood his ground and - although looking uncomfortable - ploughed in with some rangy shots.
“Easy Easy”, the Sheffield crowd chant. Rhodes gives a ‘flashy’ display of boxing in these first two rounds.
In the opening half minute of the third - Rhodes lands three left hooks in succession to the face of Coyle and the Scot faltered momentarily as if he might fall back, but he ploughs forward. Coyle takes a lot of shots in the closing half minute as he is pressured back against the ropes.
Round four is a better round for the Scotsman as he starts to settle in to the fight. Rhodes switches between the southpaw and orthodox stance and as he does so - Coyle sneaks in some shots.
Mid-way through the fifth frame, Rhodes lands a solid left shot but Coyle takes it well. In the final minute, Coyle stands toe-to-toe with Rhodes and they ’slug it out’ in the middle of the ring.
The Scottish fans are encouraged and they sing “Here we go, Here we go, Here we go”. It’s been a good fifth round for Coyle and the fight doesn’t look as one-sided as it did in the opening rounds.
Coyle has a good round six but there’s a slight swelling around the right eye area when he returns to his corner. “Don’t lunge, Don’t lunge!“ shouts Coldwell, who then urges his charge to throw some body-shots during round seven. Coyle ’ups’ the work-rate and lands a sweet right shot to the face of Rhodes mid-way through the frame. “Body-shots, Ryan!” Coldwell almost screams at Rhodes.
Rhodes starts round eight with two body shots and a head shot all in succession, then a big left punch right on the nose of Coyle, who steps back onto the ropes. But Coyle comes back with some shots of his own - clearly he is a tough fighter who can take a punch. Rhodes continues to find his target and Coyle takes a lot of shots. Coyle looks tired as he goes back to his corner.
Coyle's head rocks back from the right punch of Rhodes and he backs up on to the ropes with a minute of round nine to go, but still Coyle stands firm and in the closing seconds of the round - throws a flurry of shots.
Rhodes still looks ‘fresh’ in round ten while Coyle looks very tired as he takes shot after shot - then amazingly - digs in to land his own punches. During the intermission, Coyle tells his team, ‘I’m alright’.
With forty seconds of round eleven remaining, Rhodes lands another peach of a right hook and almost shoves Coyle across the ring.
In the twelfth and final round, Rhodes looks ‘flashy’ and Coyle looks so tired you might expect him to drop at any minute, but - as with the previous rounds - he just seems to keep on going. Rhodes skips around the ring - keeping out of trouble.
Ryan Rhodes retains his British Light Middleweight title with a unanimous points decision, 120-109; 118-111 and 120-110;
Afterward, the Champion said the "plan was to fight for a world title in Sheffield."