Sport

‘One fight at a time’: Ricky Hatton protégé Sergey Rabchenko declares total focus on upcoming EBU defence

By Ed Owen

Ricky Hatton-trained Sergey Rabchenko says he isn’t letting world championship dreams affect his focus ahead of his European title defence against Adriano Nicchi.

The unbeaten Belarusian, 26, defends his EBU crown against the resilient Nicchi in Monte Carlo on March 30.

And despite WBC president José Sulaimán hinting he could face a final eliminator against the dangerous Cuban Erislandy Lara for the body’s belt, Rabchenko refused to be drawn off his task.

“It’s one fight at a time. I am now only focused on the fight against Adriano Nicchi in Monaco,” he said. “For the other matters, I leave that to my managers, who have perfectly guided my career so far.

“I certainly respect Nicchi as my next opponent and cannot look past him – he’s the reigning Italian champion, and will certainly come to win.

“I am getting ready for this new challenge and everything is going very well in my preparations.”

If the Minsk-born fighter can overcome his Monaco challenge, then only Lara would stand in the way of a lucrative super-fight against division kingpin Saul Alvarez this year. 

And the granite-fisted Rabchenko – who possesses an unbeaten record of 22-0-0 (16KOs) – certainly believes he is capable of continuing his run to stardom.

Responding to Nicchi’s criticisms that he is a flawed fighter, the European champion accused the 32-year-old of reading too much into last November’s defence against Cedric Vitu.

Rabchenko was taken to the trenches by the tenacious Frenchman at Manchester Arena, being held to his first-ever split-decision win – something he remains sure was a blip.

“By far Cedric Vitu was not my best performance,” he said.

“Maybe it was due to a long training camp, maybe to the fact that I was not focused because my mentor, Ricky Hatton, was boxing in his comeback fight on the same night.

“But this time Ricky will be with me and you’ll see the best of me in Monaco. I am totally confident I’ll defeat Adriano Nicchi and go to the next step in my career.”

Armed with a fearsome punch and excellent technical gifts, few would bet against the Belarusian rising to the world level. 

Picture courtesy of Mark Robinson/Hatton Promotions, with thanks.

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