BOXING legend Ricky Hatton says it is only a matter of time before Belarusian puncher Kiryl Relikh emerges as a star.
Relikh took his unblemished record to 20-0 with 18 knockouts with a fifth round stoppage of Argentina’s tough Christian Ariel Lopez in Monaco on Friday night and ‘The Hitman’ believes the 25-year-old has what it takes to reach the summit of the 140lb division.
Hatton begun training the Eastern European in March last year and has been slowly adding new dimensions to his fearsome natural power.
“The sky is the limit for Kiryl,” Hatton said. “He’s got raw punching power than makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, but we’ve added a few subtleties to him that I think really give him the edge.
“He beat another solid opponent on Friday and I know a lot of people left the venue talking about what they’d seen. I think a few more performances like that, and the boxing fraternity will really start to take notice.
“He’s a bit of a dark horse at the moment because he’s not had a lot of TV exposure, but when he does get on the big shows, he’ll take them by storm.”
In recent years, light-welters such as Ruslan Providnikov, Khabib Allakhverdiev and Viktor Postol have come through the ranks in the former Soviet Union before making a name for themselves in the United States.
Hatton, himself no stranger to the big stage in New York and Las Vegas, believes his charge can also go onto wow audiences Stateside.
“I think they’ll love Kiryl in America,” he said. “They like tough, aggressive fighters with KO power over there and they get that in abundance with Kiryl.
“I don’t know what they feed their fighters in those former Russian countries, but all of them seem to have dynamite in their fists and that’s what fans want to see.”