Today's Sky Friday Fight Night features the return and first title defense of European junior middleweight titleholder Ryan Rhodes, as the Sheffield native is at home to face Italian challenger Luca Messi.
Live coverage will start at 5pm EDT.
Rhodes (43-4, 29 KO) is a worldwide top ten junior middleweight, in part because it's a weak class. In his last bout in October 2009, he thrilled us all with an excellent comeback win over Jamie Moore in a much-hyped British clash. Overall, Rhodes has won eight in a row since a 2006 loss to Gary Lockett. An interesting career (which included the division's British title in 1996) has Rhodes looking like he may be peaking at 33.
But those eight wins weren't all serious quality, and Messi (36-7-1, 12 KO) is little more than a 35-year-old journeyman. Since being stopped by Michele Piccirillo in 2006, Messi has won six straight, but the combined record of those six men coming into the fights with Messi comes to 25-80-7, and not one of them came in with a record at or above .500.
In fact, only 11 of the 36 wins on Messi's record came over guys who entered the fight with winning records. That means you can essentially dismiss 25 of Messi's 36 wins. Also, none of those guys had serious records, so...
Messi's not a real challenger. Rhodes is being provided with a very easy mark for his first defense.
I'm not sure what else Sky is going to show. They did have Martin Murray-Francis Cheka lined up, fighting for the vacant Commonwealth title at 160, but Cheka is out and replaced by Lee Noble (11-13-2, 2 KO). Overall it's a really weak card. But I do like Ryan Rhodes, so we'll be here. Join us!