Clitheroe boxer knocked out in first round of title fight

Rocky Fielding looks down at Luke Blackledge after knocking him out during their Commonwealth Super Middleweight Title fight. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.
Rocky Fielding looks down at Luke Blackledge after knocking him out during their Commonwealth Super Middleweight Title fight. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.

Luke Blackledge insists he’ll one day avenge his defeat to Warrington’s Rocky Fielding - but acknowledges he’ll have to earn that right first.

Fielding retained his Commonwealth super middleweight crown after flooring the Clitheroe fighter in the first round of their match-up on the undercard of the exhilarating encounter between Carl Froch and George Groves at Manchester’s Phones 4U Arena.

The 23-year-old was left vulnerable, exposed and defenceless when careering in to the ropes once Fielding had swerved a swinging right, before the title holder seized the opportunity with a robust left hook to the jaw.

“I’ll be back out in the New Year,” he said. “I just need to build myself back up now. But I do believe I would’ve gone on to beat him if it wasn’t for that freak shot.”

Though Paul Smith’s antics effectively hampered Blackledge’s preparation, the Liverpudlian’s resurgence has become a source of inspiration for Kevin Maree’s student.

“It’s up to me to work hard and prove myself now,” Luke said. “Paul Smith lost to James DeGale and Groves but fought back to become British champion again.

“I know I’ll get my chance again. There’s not many prospects inside the top 10 to challenge these fighters. Rocky Fielding won’t give me a rematch yet and I’m in no position to get one. It might take time but I’ve just got to put myself back in that position by proving myself. That’s the level I want to be fighting at.”

Blackledge is now subject to the mandatory 28-day rest period in line with the BBBofC’s guidelines, and Maree will review the performance and take stock over that period.

“Doors will open for Luke now. I think he’ll want to get straight back out but we need to rebuild. We need to evaluate the performance, take everything we can from it and hopefully one day we’ll get the rematch.

“Luke was a little bit too eager in the first round and didn’t really roll his head. He seemed very upright and rigid. He needed to stick it out really and see out the early rounds. In more than 500 rounds of boxing, including sparring, I’ve never seen him on the floor before. I was in shock. But he’ll only come back a better fighter for it.

“Crazy things can happen in the first round. Just look at the Froch versus Groves fight. If the referee is close enough, he intervenes because Luke is defenceless at that point. I’m not blaming the referee at all though because it happened so quickly. Not many on this planet could’ve stood up to that. It’s frustrating because we didn’t get to see who was the better fighter.”