9th June 2011

David Coldwell
Former professional boxer, trainer and promoter David Coldwell is in Mexico, to train Ryan Rhodes ahead of his quest to defeat, boxing super star world champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on June 18 in Guadalajara, Mexico and bring back to the UK, the WBC world light-middleweight title.
Rhodes, Coldwell and their team flew out last week and have settled in to their training camp and regime very well and have been getting well looked after and made to feel welcome by the Mexican people.

Coldwell says that everyone in the City seem like boxing fans and have been asking for pictures and shouting from cars and trucks everytime they go out for a walk around Mexico’s second largest city.

Alvarez is according to Coldwell, ‘Massive in Mexico’ and the fighter is on almost every TV channel, advert and billboard and at just 20, the new world champion is seen as the man to carry the Mexican boxing torch into the next decade, succeeding the likes of, Ricardo Lopez, Salvador Sanchez, Julio Cesar Chavez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erick Morales and Marco Antonio Barerra.

Coldwell is confident though that the new look Rhodes has what it takes to beat Alvarez in this his second coming of a career, that saw the Sheffield man become the youngest British title holder at 20 – Before unsuccessfully challenging Otis Grant in 1997 for the WBO middlweight title. Some twelve years later, Rhodes won back the Lonsdale belt and in his finest hour defeated Mancunian Jamie Moore in a world title eliminator, winning the European light-middleweight crown and the chance to face Alvarez.

In an exclusive interview with BritishBoxers, Coldwell speaks from the Mexican training camp about Rhodes’ preparation’s in the heat and altitude of Guadalajara and the fantastic welcoming they have had by the Mexican fans, who see Rhodes as the stern test needed, for their red headed hero ‘Canelo’. But Rhodes is super confident he can beat Canelo and Coldwell believes he can too and by knockout!
BB: How have you been welcomed in Mexico since your arrival last week?

DC: You know what it’s been great! Walking down the street people are stopping us. The first thing we noticed when we got off the plane, we were met by hoards of photographers, television cameras at the airport, we posed for photos, do interviews. This fight out here is absolutely massive, Canelo is Hugh! All the time we have been here people have been stopping us, shouting at us, wanting to talk, wanting photos with Ryan. It’s weird, Just yesterday this guy pulled up in a truck and started shouting ‘Ryan Rhodes, Ryan Rhodes’ can I have a picture! Its like that everywhere we go, it’s madness!

Hello from Mexico! Team Rhodes prepare for Alvarez

BB: How have you been treated and what are the training conditions like?

DC: We’ve been treated very well here, Ryan’s fitness conditioner Mark Willie actually found a weights gym for us to use around the corner and I’ve found a boxing gym, which is a different to the one we were told by Golden Boy we could use, I’ve found somewhere else that we want to use. It is a fantastic facility out here and we have got everything we need it’s brilliant! The food in the hotel is first class, we are eating plenty of fruit, organic food, steamed fish, chicken, we are eating very well out here and have been well looked after.

BB: How have the Mexican fans received Ryan, knowing he is there to take the title from their hero?

DC: He has been received really well, but everyone out here knows ‘Canelo’ he is Hugh, he is bigger than David Beckham back home. But there is a percentage of Mexicans who are saying to me that he (Alvarez) is famous because he is always on television programs, on adverts. But the Mexicans like their fighters to prove themselves in the ring and be in tough fights and they want to see him tested, their fed up of seeing him against guys that are too small, they are all saying this to me and they are all excited about Ryan fighting him. The Mexicans who have been in the gym, sparring and watching the training, realise Ryan can punch, so they are all looking forward to the fight. The media here has been unbelievable, they have been down at the gym everyday, the build-up is unreal. I mean I was involved in the Naz (Hamed) fights and and now the David Haye fights and other big fights and occasions like that. But here they are boxing fanatics! Like at home you have boxing fans and then there are the event fans. Here everybody is a boxing fan and this is a Hugh fight for them!

BB: There is the issue of the altitude out there being 6000 feet above sea level and the obvious heat and time difference, how does that effect preparations and is it or will it be a problem?

DC: Do you know what Ive got to say, the heat yeah its hot, but you get used to it after a couple of days. But the altitude hasn’t kicked in yet, we haven’t felt it. The time difference we got over that after the first day or so. We travelled for twenty odd hours but adjusted quickly to the time zone. I spoke with Adam Booth about training out here and about the issues. Adam knows alot about the body and he said, the first two days don’t do any punching, don’t do anything, the first couple of days just rest, so we just went for little walks and started punching on the third day, so Ryan has adjusted really well.

BB: How is the training going?

DC: Each training session he is getting sharper and faster. And I know trainers always say it, but right now where were at, I’m absolutely over the moon. We had the first sparring session on Monday. We’ve got two Mexicans over here who have come in and basically tried to take Ryan’s head off! But they were good sparring sessions and the first in the heat and he did really well and I was well happy and his training sessions have been spot on, perfect. It’s very rare that a punching session is perfect, but his last three have been. We just finished one twenty minutes ago, again perfect and tonight (Thursday) he has another big sparring session and I’m looking forward to that. Willie ( ) is putting him through tough circuits but he is handling them well and dealing with them regardless of the heat. He then has a few hours rest and then does the punching sessions with me, then a six hour rest and then we do a night session to coincide with the time we will be walking to the ring. It is just a case of he trains, he eats, he rests he trains and that’s all he’s doing, but I’m delighted with how it is all going.

Coldwell gets Rhodes prepared for sparring session

BB: Who is with you in Mexico as part of the team?

DC: Apart from Ryan and myself there is Fitness coach Mark Willie, Ryan’s brother Wesley and one of his best mates Johnny Atkinson. Wes and Johnny are such a good laugh and a pair of characters, you need that in the team. So when we are not training we have a real good laugh and its a really good atmosphere and helps us to relax. We’ve got out here and the Mexican people are treating us really well. It is so different to how I thought it was going to be, it’s brilliant!

BB: So no tricks being played or Fire Alarms going off in the middle of the night then?

DC: No nothing like that but don’t get me wrong in the week before the fight, there might be the odd trick played here and there, but I expected it from day one, so I’m happy where we are at and how things are going up to now.

BB: Has Ryan come face to face with Alvarez in Mexico yet and will the crowd have an effect on Ryan?

DC: No not yet, Alvarez arrives in Guadalajara sometime on Friday and then sometime after that in fight week, that is when we we will come face to face with him. Ryan isn’t fazed one little bit. You know we have watched tapes of him and you can hear the crowd, It’s just constant ‘Canelo, Canelo, Canelo’ loud! So we are expecting that and Ryan is ready for it.

BB: You have been training Ryan now for six years, what do you see in him now, that convinces you he better equipped to win the world title now, compared to the younger version who failed?

DC: When Ryan came to me, no offence to him but he was fourteen and a half stone, everybody thought that he had retired. He had no confidence in fighting again and basically he was going nowhere. Between myself on the boxing side of things and Mark with the fitness side, we have re-built him and have done a lot of talking to Ryan. We are a close team, a small team and together it has been a process and a work in progress. When he lost to (Gary) Lockett, I said to him in the ring ‘I’ll bring you back’ and I did on three of my shows. Then he got the Gary Woolcombe fight and won the British title again. The Lockett fight had infact exercised a lot of demons for Ryan. Everyone thought he was chinny, but he took some big shots from Lockett and he obviously didn’t win the fight, because it wasn’t his time. But everything happened and eventually lead to his fight with Jamie Moore. I shouted for that fight, because I knew he could beat Jamie Moore and the fact that he went out there and stood and had it with Jamie, proved another dimension to Ryan. Every fight, every training session is an education. For this fight we have been drilling into him the tactics different moves and punches, fitness work and if he follows the game plan, I cannot see Alvarez not getting knocked out! Mentally he is now much stronger, he as proved the doubters wrong! He is relaxed with no pressure on him and he can go in there and relax and do his thing. The Jamie Moore fight proved what he can do and he has come along way in his career.

BB: This is a massive fight for Ryan and British Boxing, but it seems to almost dropped under the radar a little bit, do you feel Ryan deserves more credit for taking on Alvarez in Mexico and should have had more support from the sports fans and media?

DC: The only thing I’ll say is that the friends and fans are all sending us good luck messages and boxing fans realise the enormity of Ryan’s task coming here to face a legitimate world champion in front of his own fans in Mexico. Yes I don’t believe Ryan has had the exposure and coverage that he deserves. He is fighting for the WBC world title against one of the new super stars of world boxing. It is a legitimate world title chance and its a little bit quiet in the media and it is a massive challenge, Ryan deserves more recognition for what he is trying to achieve here. I’m not saying Alvarez is a Donald Curry or Jose Napoles, but in toady’s market, he is a massive super star, Golden Boys number one flash name and Ryan is taking him on at altitude in the guys back yard. The boxing fans know it, on my Twitter page and Facebook page, everyday I’m getting messages of support from them, saying they are all rooting for him and everything and yet the main stream media don’t seem too interested and are not giving this fight the build-up it deserves. Your talking about a Brit. challenging for a world title abroad and a legitimate world title at that. I mean look at Carl Froch! You cant name me another fighter who has had back to back elite fights like he’s had and up until signing with Matchroom he never had the publicity he deserved. Now with Sky and everything hopefully he can get that now and it is fantastic. What Carl has achieved in his career is phenomenal. We might not have a British fighter for years who is fighting for legitimate world titles, against the best fighters, legitimate champions back to back. Carl Froch should be a guy who walks down the street and everybody knows who he is, but that is the problem with our game at the moment. I mean the fans are there I just don’t think they are getting fed enough coverage of the fighters. They may have heard of certain fighters but have never got to see them in action and it is a situation that we need help within the press and with TV coverage.

Ryan being interviewed by the Mexican press

BB: Will Ryan be the best fighter Alvarez has faced to date in your opinion?

DC: Definitely without a doubt, If you look at his record he has fought the odd decent fighter, but the majority of them were average with average records. If you look into his opponents records, they might have faced someone who was 26-1 – But then you look at who he has fought and it was below average fighters with padded records in order to build the record up. Carlos Baldomir before he pulled off the Zab Judah win was just a good circuit fighter and was old and slow when he fought Alvarez, but still managed to land well, before getting caught with a beautiful left hook, Alvarez is a good left hooker and stopped him. Jose Miguel Cotto was a decent fighter and win for him, but Cotto is also a small guy. He hasn’t proven himself yet, I’m here in Mexico and his own Mexican people are telling me that they are excited about this fight, because it is Canelo’s first fight where he is fighting a proper world class light-middleweight fighter. So if you have Mexicans in Mexican boxing gyms are telling you this, then you know this is what they think and feel about him. Canelo is a good good prospect, but he ain’t fought anybody yet!
BB: How does the Ryan Rhodes of old, compare with the new version and second coming in a career that has spanned 16 years?

DC: If the Ryan Rhodes of old fought the Ryan Rhodes of today, he would get knocked out! Because he used to leave a lot of holes in his defence and held his chin in the air, he was too upright. I recently watched the Lee Blundell fight (Rhodes lost KO3) and the transformation and improvement in him since them days is massive. During the last six years he has now won the British and European titles, WBC International belt, he is now ranked number 3 by the WBC and IBF. Ryan Rhodes before never had a world ranking like that, he is also ranked number 4 by The Ring Magazine now, he never had that before. I think it’s time people gave Ryan credit for the successes he has done over the past six years, since getting his career back on track, when many believed he was finished and we had seen the last of him. Part two of Ryan’s career has been more successful than part one and there is more substance to him now as a fighter. Don’t get me wrong part one of his career played a part in his progression, you cant take that away, but in the second part of his career, his style and his approach is different, subtle different but different. If you look back at Ryan as British champion at 20 and now as British champion in his 30’s. He is now physically in better shape, better muscle definition than he was as a kid! and a lot of that credit goes to the conditioning coach (Mark) Willie.

BB: There as been news in the press recently that Alvarez is looking at big fights against Manny Pacquaio, Julio Ceasar Chavez Jnr. even Floyd Mayweather, is that a bit foolish to be looking past Ryan?

DC: Yeah I know, $40 million to fight Pacquiao, I hear! Listen maybe his promoters and people around him are looking past Ryan, but I don’t for one minute think that Alvarez is looking past Ryan.

BB: How do you plan and prepare for Ryan to beat Alvarez?

DC: I have watched hours and hours of fight tapes of him and we have wanted the fight for a long time, Ryan wanted the fight and we know we can win this. Alvarez is not the finished article, he is a very good fighter and could be go on to be a future great, but at the moment he is a very very good prospect and Id rather be facing him now, than in two years time.

BB: Saturday Night Ryan Rhodes defeats Saul Alvarez and wins the WBC world title in Mexico! What would that mean to Ryan, yourself and your camp?

DC: What a story that would be. I was having this conversation with Ryan last night and I said to him, his life would be totally different. We look at him now and how people are fancying him since the Jamie Moore fight and his profile has risen since that win. But to go to Mexico and beat Alvarez for the WBC world title, a legitimate world title would just take it to another level, unbelievable and the accumulation of a great career and he would be living on that achievement for the rest of his life. And as far as I’m concerned it would be a massive success. Since he came to train with me and Willie six years ago. We have turned him into a legitimate force and coming on the back of George Groves’ achievement beating DeGale would be great. Again George is a fighter who everybody wrote off apart from us. But he went in there with a game plan and pulled off the biggest win of his career and on the back of that it would be brilliant. That would then be two out of two and then we’ve just got David to beat Klitschko and Curtis Woodhouse to beat Frankie Gavin and its happy days.
Team Hayemaker: David Haye, George Groves, David Coldwell, Adam Booth

BB: Are you keeping up with whats going on back home with David’s (Haye) preparations to face Wladimir Klitschko and how are things going in camp?

DC: Yeah I speak to Adam Booth everyday and its all good. David is looking unbelievable I am told. I mean he was looking fantastic before I left. But since then I’m even more excited since what Adams been telling me and I’m looking forward to Ryan winning here and then getting back to check him out for myself and get ready for that fight in Germany.

BB: Where do you find the hours in the day to keep up with your busy schedule and is it difficult spending so much time on the road?
DC: HaHa, I don’t know? Obviously I’m missing my family loads, massively infact. I’m really close to my missus, shes my best mate basically. We’ve got a little girl who I spend hours with and I love her to bits. Plus we’ve just had a baby boy, who was two weeks when I left and I wont be back for another three weeks, so he is going to be bigger and grown more when I get home. My missus told me he has already put on 2lbs plus since Ive been gone. But it will all be worth the sacrifices when Ryan becomes world champion.

BB: Does it get any better than this?

DC: I’m not sure but things are going great. The George Groves win last month in the biggest domestic clash for years. Being involved in one of the biggest fights for years with Ryan here in Mexico against Alvarez and then coming back to go to Germany with David Haye in the biggest heavyweight title fight since Lennox Lewis fought Mike Tyson. So being involved in them three fights is like something you’d dream about. Ive had a great time working with Adam Booth, David and Hayemaker and spending time in the gyms in Cyprus and London, Ive learnt a lot from Adam about the human body too, as he knows everything about that side of things. I can always pick up the phone and speak to him about stuff. We are very like minded in our training methods before we even worked together. We are alike in our methods and can talk boxing, strategies and tactics all day long. Working with Adam and getting involved in the business side and him helping me, has brought me on in the game leaps and bounds and I’m lucky to be involved in these good times with the camps.
BB: Do you want to send a message back to the fans in the UK?
DC: I’d really like to thank everybody on my Twitter and Facebook for all the messages I’m constantly getting. For the support I’ve had including in the other fights too with George and Curtis, Davids fight and especially this one Ryan’s fight, the amount of support has been fantastic and Id like to thank everyone for that. I relay all these messages back to Ryan he appreciates it all too. That’s not only the fans but the people who are involved in the game and work in the game too. This morning I got a message off Joe Calzaghe on my Twitter and so many other names from the sport are supporting us and wishing us all the best and its brilliant!