BoxNation deal vital for Luke says coach Matvienko

Commonwealth champion Luke Blackledge (right) in action in his title defence against Lee Markham''''Picture: Karen Priestley
Commonwealth champion Luke Blackledge (right) in action in his title defence against Lee Markham''''Picture: Karen Priestley

Elite Boxing’s Alex Matvienko has stressed the significance of Commonwealth champion Luke Blackledge signing with Frank Warren at BoxNation.

The 25-year-old put pen to paper on a three-year deal with the promoter after retaining his title against Lee Markham at the Manchester Arena.

The victory, scored 116-113, 116-114 and 115-114 by judges Terry O’Connor, Steve Gray and Phil Edwards respectively, has earned him a place on the undercard of Andy Lee’s rescheduled WBO World middleweight title defence against Billy Joe Saunders on December 19th.

“It opens some massive doors for him,” said the former professional fighter. “There’s two big promoters in this country - Matchroom and BoxNation - and Luke’s signed with one of them. You need a big promoter in this game to get far. He’s on a good winning streak so he’s growing in confidence. There’s a lot more to come from Luke.”

Matvienko feels his student’s latest outing was one of his most rounded showings to date - even though he didn’t move out of “second gear”.

Blackledge dealt with the pressure well as Markham tucked in to the pocket and attempted to smother him over 12 rounds.

But the work rate and desire of Britain’s number six, coupled with a slick display of attack and defence, ultimately earned a sixth successive triumph.

“He did well, even though he didn’t seem to come out of second gear,” he said. “Myself and the rest of the corner all had him comfortably ahead. He was coasting. He could’ve boxed a bit more but he beat him at his own game.

“It was quite a taxing, demanding and tiring fight for him but he was never in any danger. He didn’t get hit by any big shots, with the possible exception of the 11th round. Luke rode his shots, slipped them and rolled them. His movement completely negated them.”

Matvienko added: “He out-worked him and he was the busier, more economical and clinical fighter. He showed a good array of skills.

“He worked hard, coped well and it was good for him to go another 12 rounds without taking much punishment.

“Luke fights with his heart on his sleeve but he showed a lot of maturity in that fight.

“He looked relaxed, composed, more experienced and he used his brain more. He set traps and he was clever with it. His defensive skills and footwork were impressive too.”