Clitheroe’s Luke Blackledge eyes further glory

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POWERHOUSE boxer Luke Blackledge is gunning for Rocky Fielding after landing the British Masters light-heavyweight title.

In his biggest test to date at De Vere Whites, situated at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, conceding 7lb to the imposing frame of Carl Wild at the weigh-in, the 22-year-old Clitheroe fighter boxed clever to further polish his professional record, which now stands at 11 wins, to claim his first belt.

Just 24 hours prior, Frank Warren’s highly-touted protégé, Fielding, was crowned the BBBofC English super-middleweight champion after forcing a stoppage in the fifth round of his title contest with Carl Dilks at Liverpool’s Olympia.

“I’m happy to get that first title under my belt,” said Blackledge.

“I might have one defence of the title then look at getting a shot at the English super-middleweight title Rocky Fielding has just won.

“I will be chuffed if I get that chance in my next three fights. That’s the fight I want.”

Blackledge showed unrelenting hunger from the first bell, steaming in to his foe in bull-like fashion, and dictating the momentum of the bout.

Wild seemed bewildered by the velocity and ferocity of Blackledge who channelled his aggression well, retaining his discipline, and meticulously picking his shots.

The early rounds saw Blackledge executing blows to the frame of Wild, working on the outside, before unleashing swinging overarms over the top of his opponent’s tight defence.

Unable to get down the middle, Blackledge, under the instruction of coach Kevin Maree, continued to work the outside, managing to land a couple of head shots in the corner during the second round.

But his Sheffield-based opponent is tough and durable and soaked up much of the onslaught and eventually retaliated, sharing punches with Blackledge from close proximity as the contest opened up.

Wild came to life in the third stanza, catching Blackledge unexpectedly with numerous combinations targeting head and body, though the former Kokoro fighter had earlier rocked Wild with a stinging right hand that had the BBCofC Central Area light-heavyweight title holder back-peddling to the ropes.

Referee Phil Edwards issued Blackledge with the first of two warnings for leaning in to Wild with his forehead early in the fourth, before Blackledge issued a warning signal of his own in the fifth as a left, right combo to the head, followed up by two hefty right hooks, forced Wild off balance once more.

The second warning from fight official Edwards arrived in the seventh as the duo locked horns in the centre of the ring, waiting for an aperture in their respective guards to land the decisive shot.

Wild connected with two piercing left jabs followed up by a circling right midway through the round and finished with an uppercut that knocked Blackledge.

In the penultimate round, as fatigue hindered Wild’s performance slightly, Blackledge was able to breach his defence.

In the last round, Wild landed a strong right but it was Blackledge who finished stronger as he span Wild before hammering him against the ropes.

It was an intriguing encounter, both contributing to a fine, powerful contest, though Blackledge was a deserving 99-93 points victor.

“I feel a bit sore because it was a tough fight,” declared the super-middleweight fighter after receiving his belt. “But I’m buzzing about the outcome.

“Fighting at light-heavyweight, it made it difficult, especially when he weighed in 7lb more than me.

“I would’ve been 12st 10lb at most for the fight, whereas he’d have been pushing 14st. There was a big size difference. I won’t fight at that weight again.

“I’ve fought bigger guys before.

“They’ve got a stronger punch resistance, so they take less punishment.

“But I got the 10 rounds in and he kept me working which I’m happy about.”