Blackledge forces stoppage in Bolton

Luke Blackledge has his eyes on the prize. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Luke Blackledge has his eyes on the prize. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
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Luke Blackledge emulated the likes of Frank Buglioni, Chris Eubank Jr and Callum Smith when completely overwhelming seasoned professional Olegs Fedotovs to force a stoppage at Bolton Whites Hotel.

The former Latvian middleweight champion, who also held the Global Boxing Union World title at 160lbs, had also been out-pointed by Andy Lee and Rocky Fielding during a career that has spanned 53 fights to date.

The 32-year-old had won 22 of those, with 16 of those triumphs coming by knockout, but there was never any threat of the tourist extending that record.

Fedotovs gloves were used primarily for protection as Blackledge constructed an energetic performance brimming with intensity, prolificacy and purpose.

The travelling fighter was the bigger physical specimen but the most effective way to chop down a tree is at its trunk, and the one-time Commonwealth champion proved this adage to be true.

Blackledge battered the body throughout, gradually wearing his opponent down, while throwing calculated feints in a bid to bring the guard down before moving upstairs.

The pressure was sustained but educated as Blackledge mounted attacks without leaving himself exposed to the counter in an extremely one-sided affair.

Fedotovs rarely fought back, becoming a human punch bag, but the BoxNation pugilist approached his opponent intelligently, as if there was a more dangerous foe at the other end.

Alex Matvienko re-iterated the positives in the corner, telling his student to relax and enjoy it without forcing anything.

The coach, labelled the ‘One Man Riot’ during his professional days, also instructed Blackledge to cut off the ring to Fedotov’s right hand side, setting the platform to go at the ‘Viking’ from both sides.

Blackledge obliged, swinging thudding left and right hooks to the body that drew signs of discomfort from Fedotov’s demeanour.

It was the home fighter’s rhythmic routine of head and lateral movement that aided his ability to manufacture the angles and expose the pockets of space with stinging combinations.

A left to the body did even more damage as Fedotovs staggered back, his facial features now grimacing, while a robust right to the head forced him to cower in the corner.

Fedotovs was resilient but there were doubts over whether he’d appear for the fourth round after taking so much punishment. His right eye was now closing.

Blackledge cranked up the aggression again, his opponent now bleeding from his nose, but still he refused to accept defeat.

However, with slightly over a minute of the round remaining, Fedotov’s corner had seen enough and threw in the towel which, surprisingly, sparked an angry and animated response from their man.

Referee Jamie Kirkpatrick held Blackledge’s arm aloft, signalling the 23rd triumph of his tenure, while Fedotov’s turned his back.