Ricky Hatton has told his light-middleweight champion Sergey Rabchenko to put his world championship dreams on ice if he is to overcome his next opponent.
The Hitman is demanding full focus from the unbeaten Belarussian, 26, as he puts his European title on the line against Adriano Nicchi on March 30 in Monte Carlo.
And Hyde-born Hatton believes his charge must continue his intimidating form against the Italian champion if he is to keep hopes of facing WBC kingpin Saul Alvarez alive.
“Sergey can see that world title on the horizon now, but isn’t ready just yet so needs to continue to impress again in Monaco,” Hatton said.
“In defending his European title, Sergey is fast climbing the world rankings and has a lot of people excited due to his explosive punching power.
“Although this is another tough defence, it’s one we’re confident he will come through.”
With a record of 22-0-0 (16 KOs) the granite-fisted Rabchenko possesses a fearsome knockout ratio of 73 per cent but was held to his first ever split-decision last November.
Boxing on the undercard of his trainer’s unsucessful comeback, the Minsk-born fighter retained his EBU belt despite being taken into the trenches by resilient Frenchman Cedric Vitu.
But now Rabchenko will be looking to re-assert his status as one of the division’s dangermen with an emphatic result against the dangerous Nicchi in Monaco.
Hatton’s comments came after the Belarussian’s manager Philippe Fondu last month announced he would soon be ready to challenge the division’s big guns.
The Belgian believes his man – ranked as the WBC’s number two challenger at 154lb – to have limitless potential, especially with former world champion Hatton in his corner.
He said: “For Sergey a world title is the ultimate goal and I’m convinced that, with the support of Ricky Hatton, the sky is the limit.”
And if Rabchenko can add victory 23 to his formidable record next month, it is believed only a final eliminator will stand between him and an attempt on Alvarez’s crown.
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