If you spot Lydell Rhodes out and about—say, at a restaurant or grocery store or pumping gas—you’ll see an ordinary dude. Throw him in the squared circle, though, and that’s when his alter ego manifests.
“Just put me in front of a big fight crowd,” says Rhodes, a self-proclaimed night owl. “That’s when the ‘Hackman’ in me comes alive.”
Rhodes (23-0-1, 11 KOs) will once again transform into his ominous persona during Friday’s bout against Sergey Lipinets (7-0, 6 KOs) on a Premier Boxing Champions card from The Venue at UCF in Orlando, Florida (Bounce TV, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
A 28-year-old native of Spencer, Oklahoma, Lydell Rhodes plans to enter the ring wearing a hockey mask that conjures Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame. And with this fight taking place on the eve of Halloween, that mask will have an added twist.
“Instead of it just being white, I had it painted orange and black to match my uniform and my shoes,” says Rhodes, who trains out of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s Las Vegas-based facility. “I used to come out with a mask, so I’m going back to my roots while adding some entertainment value to the Halloween theme.”
Rhodes says his “Hackman” moniker has two origins, the initial one being a reference to his 80-year-old grandfather’s nickname, “Hack.” “To this day, he’s still working,” Rhodes says. “He owns a business doing yard work, cutting grass and cleaning buildings in Spencer, Oklahoma. So it’s like, ‘You can Hack it,’ or, ‘You can Hack anything.’”
The other meaning?
“Now, that’s obvious,” Rhodes says. “‘Hack’ sounds like you’re going to butcher your opponent and ‘hack’ people down. And on Friday night, that’s how I’ll handle my business against Sergey Lipinets.”
Lipinets, who checked in at 139.8 pounds at Thursday’s weigh-in, owns a near three-inch height advantage against Rhodes, who is listed at 5-foot-4½. On the other hand, Rhodes—who tipped the scales Thursday at 138.8 pounds—will have the edge in ring experience, having logged 109 rounds in 24 bouts, compared with Lipinets’ 40 rounds in his seven contests.
Despite his opponents’ relative lack of experience, Rhodes says he’s seen enough on video to know that the Russian-based 26-year-old native of Kazakhstan is dangerous. After all, since winning his pro debut by unanimous decision, Lipinets has scored six consecutive knockouts.
“He likes to keep his range and throw the jab, but he also likes to set up and load up on his overhand right with some power on it,” Rhodes says. “He breaks guys down and wears guys down to the point where they’ll stop fighting him.
“Nothing’s easy in this world, and I give him all of the respect in the world, because the guy is undefeated.”
While Rhodes’ prep work for this bout has included some video scouting, Lipinets says he didn’t study Rhodes, choosing instead to rely on the assessment of cornerman Rodrigo Mosquera.
“I’ve never watched a second of tape on him, [but] I never look at opponents. I prepare myself and listen to my trainer,” Lipinets says. “My trainer says he’ll try to move a lot, try to use the whole ring to make it more comfortable for himself. But I will cut the ring off and put pressure on him. Or I could box with him. I can do both. It depends how I feel in there.
“I’m stronger, but he’s the best opponent I’ve fought so far.”
Both fighters have faced one common opponent in Rynell Griffin. While Rhodes whitewashed Griffin in a six-round unanimous decision in February 2013, Lipinets earned a third-round knockout of the journeyman 18 months later.
Those results might give Lipinets a little added confidence heading into this one. Then again, Rhodes will tell you he’s not even close to the same fighter he was when he beat Griffin nearly three years ago—and the “Hackman” says Lipinets will realize this in a hurry.
“I’ve trained in some of the best camps in the world,” Rhodes says. “I’ve been in there with Shawn Porter, who brings crazy pressure, and Manny Pacquiao, whose work [ethic] is incredible. I’m battle-tested.
“He’s not faced an athletic guy who throws punches fast and hard like I do, and who will give him movement, right hands, left hooks and body shots all night long. I’ll do a lot more than hack him down. I’ll make him look like a C-level or D-level fighter.”
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