British title tilt motivates Luke

British super-middleweight champion Callum Smith
British super-middleweight champion Callum Smith

Luke Blackledge says that his showdown with Callum Smith for the prized Lonsdale Belt has put fire in his belly.

The 26-year-old is still awaiting to hear about a date and venue for the forthcoming contest, which has been ordered to take place before the end of November by the British Boxing Board of Control, though it will be staged by Matchroom after promoter Eddie Hearn won the purse bid.

An invitation was submitted for Clitheroe’s Commonwealth champion to feature on the undercard of Kell Brook’s clash with unified middleweight boss Gennady Golovkin at the O2 Arena on September 12th.

However, due to circumstances beyond his control, which resulted in injury, the Elite boxer was left without the necessary time to perfect his preparations.

Discussions are still ongoing, but it would make complete sense to stage the bout at the Echo Arena, home to ‘Mundo’, on October 15th when fellow Liverpudlian Tony Bellew makes the first defence of his WBC World cruiserweight crown against American BJ Flores.

“The fight has been confirmed but no date has been set yet,” said Blackledge, who is coached by former pro Alex Matvienko. “Eddie Hearn has won the purse bids so we’re just waiting to hear which show we’ll be fighting on. It has to be before November though.

“I was offered to fight on the undercard of Golovkin-Brook but unfortunately it was too short notice. It only gave me four weeks to prepare and I want to make sure that I’m fully ready for this fight.

“I sustained an injury after a car accident, I’ve had stitches, so with recovery time and a training camp it just wasn’t possible. It’s going to be re-scheduled.

“The Bellew card is one that I think they are looking at and it’s certainly an option. It could happen but at the moment I’m just working on my strengths and weaknesses to prepare for it. I just want to keep moving forward.”

Blackledge acknowledges the magnitude of the test that he faces in his next outing in the super-middleweight division but, with the British title on the line, he stated that he would have fought anybody on the planet.

Ahead of the contest with Smith, who has won three-quarters of his 20 contests within the distance, Blackledge said: “I’m chuffed to bits that I’m fighting for the British title. It’s going to be a massive fight.

“He’s a world class fighter and he’s ranked at number four in the world for a reason. It’s a massive step up for me so I need to be ready.

“He’s knocked his opponents out early on, he’s a world class fighter and a world class finisher. He’s dangerous so I’ve got to be on my ‘A’ game. I’m confident, though, otherwise I wouldn’t fight.

“I’m excited about it and I’m honoured to have been nominated as mandatory by the British Boxing Board of Control.

“It just shows how far I’ve come - from having no ABA experience, to becoming Commonwealth champion and now I’m challenging for the British title live on Sky Sports. It’s brilliant.”

Opportunities like this don’t come around all the time, particularly for those who haven’t been hand-fed a career, and that makes Blackledge even more determined to make all his efforts pay off.

“I’ve had to work really hard and show a lot of dedication to get this opportunity,” he said. “I’ve not been handed anything. I’ve done it the hard way. I’ve not been given this shot; I’ve earned it.

“It means everything to me and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s put fire in my belly and I’m 100% up for it. I’ve got to be the best I can be on the night. I’ve got to give it my all whether I win, lose or draw.”

He added: “I think people under-estimate me but I’ve got nothing to lose. This is the belt that I’ve always wanted to win and I would’ve fought anybody in the world for it. Everyone in boxing knows about the Lonsdale Belt and it’s every lads dream to win it.”