Rabchenko too good for valiant Rhodes
Ricky Hatton (left) has started coaching winner Sergey Rabchenko
Sheffield light-middleweight Ryan Rhodes has seen his dreams of becoming a two-time European champion brutally dashed after he suffered a seventh-round knockout loss to Belarus' Sergey Rabchenko in Manchester.
The 35-year-old former two-time British titleist was undone by a chilling left hook to the body from Rabchenko, who moves his perfect professional record to 21 victories, with 16 of those coming inside the distance.
Rhodes drops to 46-6, with the very real prospect his decorated 17-year career has come to an end
An edge was leant to the pre-fight build-up when it emerged Ricky Hatton - promoter of both fighters - had taken charge of coaching duties for Rabchenko, much to the displeasure of the Rhodes camp.
Rabchenko, 26, shaded the opener, landing the left hook as Rhodes appeared content to operate on the back foot, but the veteran enjoyed success with his own left in round two, crisply timing his opponent's advances.
Rhodes had Rabchenko in trouble when a firecracker left-right combination found the target early in the next round, but as he looked to press home the advantage he was stunned by a thudding right hook.
This back and forth became a feature of the contest, but by the middle rounds it was clear the younger man's superior strength was taking its toll.
The decisive moment came when Rhodes staggered back under upstairs fire in the seventh round, before Rabchenko unleashed the kind of body shot that became his trainer's trademark to end the argument.