I recently has a chance to speak with undefeated prospect Lydell Rhodes during the 210th edition of “On The Ropes” Boxing Radio. Rhodes (19-0 9 KOs) was selected as part of Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partners and has helped the former 8 division champion prepare for his upcoming April 12th rematch with Timothy Bradley. Lydell discusses his time in camp and how he thinks he did preparing Pacquiao for the rematch. Rhodes also discusses his career so far and how he thinks working with the Mayweather’s has shaped him as a fighter. Additionally Lydell gives his thoughts on Mayweather-Maidana and the future of Pacquiao. Here is what Lydell Rhodes had to say in part 1 of his interview
Jenna J: Lydell, you’ve been featured in the news lately as you have been working with Manny Pacquiao, how has this whole experience been like for you?
Lydell Rhodes: It’s been great, I’m glad that I’m getting a lot of exposure out there with different fight fans. The whole experience out here has been good, everyone out here has treated me great. I’m just loving it, I’m having fun doing what I love to do.
Jenna: A lot of the Pacquiao fans have been saying a lot of positive things about you, what has your experience been like with them?
Rhodes: It honestly feels better than home, I’m not gonna lie. I come out here and since I’m with Pacquiao, it’s almost like they’re treating me like I’m him somewhat. I’m not as big as him, but everywhere I go people are like, “Pacquiao’s sparring partner, can I take a picture?” It’s really, really cool and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Jenna: In your career you have established a 19-0 record with 9 KO’s, and you’ve fought primarily in Oklahoma. Can you talk a little bit about your rise so far in boxing?
Rhodes: I never really even thought that it would take me this far because I didn’t get into the whole fight thing until I was 20 years old. I did a stint in MMA, I was more serious with MMA before boxing, and my pro boxing debut I was an opponent. They called me on a week and a half’s notice and I just took the fight because I was in MMA.
I wasn’t really thinking about doing pro boxing that much or trying to be a world champion. I ended up going in and I got the win and after that everyone was like, “Man you should just stick to boxing.” That’s what I chose and I stuck with, and it’s been going really great.
My promoter is based in Oklahoma so all my fights have been around the Oklahoma area. Hopefully one of these days–whether I get co-promoted or anything like that–I can get a fight outside of Oklahoma and hopefully it would be a big fight soon, in Vegas or anywhere.
Jenna: You mentioned Vegas, you’ve been seen a lot working at the Mayweather gym, working with Floyd Mayweather Sr. Can you tell me what you learned from working with him?
Rhodes: Actually we just split up, but I learned a lot from him, coming from more of an MMA base, even though I did amateur boxing as well. When I first came to Vegas, I wasn’t what you call a “boxer” I was more of a pressure fighter/brawler who just had natural ability.
He turned all my natural abilities into skill, he sharpened up my technique and my punches got a little sharper, a little faster, and got me a little stronger. With all that and my footwork getting better, I became a complete package where I can box, counterpunch and I can still bang if necessary, if need be. Now I would say I’m a complete fighter, I can do just about anything and adapt to every style. I owe a lot of what I learned to Floyd Mayweather Sr.
Jenna: Floyd Mayweather announced that he would be facing Marcos Maidana on May 3rd. What do you think of that fight and who are you picking?
Rhodes: Well, until Floyd proves me wrong and he loses, I gotta go with him every fight because the proof’s in the pudding. He hasn’t lost, on paper he’s undefeated and Marcos has lost I believe 3 times, so on paper I gotta go with Floyd. But watching both fighters fight, I still got to go with Floyd because what he does in the ring is just remarkable, he makes every fight look easier than it is.
I see him out boxing Marcos every round. I believe if he goes to the body, he has a chance to get him out. I’d say there’s a 10-15% chance that he can stop Maidana, but I see him definitely getting the decision. Whether it would be easy or not, I’m leaning more towards it being an easy night for Floyd.
Marcos is a beast and he’ll be in there to fight every round, but Floyd he’s just really good at what he does. I think people like him and Pacquiao, they’re just on a whole other level than everyone else. Like I said, Floyd can make a hard fight look very easy, so I’m with Floyd all the way in that fight.
Jenna: You’ve worked with a lot of guys in the Mayweather gym, there’s a sparring video of you with Adrien Broner. What were your experiences sparring in the Mayweather gym?
Rhodes: Oh yes, coming to the gym, you never know who is gonna be in there. You have almost a who’s who of boxing coming through there that are working out or just coming to chill with Floyd or just coming to see the gym. It’s great to be in that atmosphere where you see the best of what you’re doing in life, and that’s boxing for me. I see the best boxers in the world come through there.
The work that I get in there is second to none, in that gym you have everyone. I’ve sparred with Shawn Porter, Adrien Broner, all the guys in the gym. You can’t look around and name a bum that’s walking in the gym. Everyone from the amateurs is good, all the way up to the professionals are top notch. I’d say that’s been a real blessing in my career, just to spar with top notch guys all the time, and I hold my own every time I do it.
Jenna: Now that you are working with Manny Pacquiao, your job is to imitate the style of Timothy Bradley. How has that been going and how have those sparring sessions been going with Pacquiao?
Rhodes: They’re going really great, but now I truly see why he’s a champion and why the champions take such a long training camp because I first came in there and the sparring sessions were going really good but I could tell as each sparring session continued to go, he gets a little sharper and little smarter.
At the beginning he wasn’t cutting off the ring as good–I was able to move around and jab him a little more. As the camp goes, he’s cutting off the ring more, he’s making me fight at his pace, which is fast and furious. He throws a lot of combinations, a lot of punches. He stays on me, going to the body, working the head, doing everything.
It’s good to be in there with a champion like him to see how he adapts to certain things that I do and certain movements and how one thing I might get away in one sparring session, but sometimes I may just get away with it for 2 or 3 rounds then he adjust himself to it and I can’t do it anymore.
Being around him and seeing his work ethic and the way that he just picks it up every sparring session, every day in training he gets better and better and sharper and sharper. The way that Freddie adjust everything, if I do one thing like catch him with double jabs or feints, I see him working on it right after, they’ll be doing mitts and Freddie will be breaking them down for him. Manny is a great champion and I look for him to do really well in the fight because he’s doing really great in the sparring that we’ve had so far.