It takes a great deal of strength and temerity for any athlete to risk failure in the pursuit of success but boxer Luke Blackledge isn’t just any sportsman.
The 22-year-old knew the extremity of the challenge ahead when accepting the World Boxing Council’s proposal to face Scandinavia’s hottest property Erik Skoglund for a shot at the Youth World light heavyweight title.
Blackledge produced a courageous and indomitable display against the highly-touted Swede but lost the bout via a unanimous decision after the 10 round battle. However, despite enduring his first professional defeat, his performance earned him the opportunity to fight for a similarly prestigious belt.
Kevin Maree’s protege had stepped up in class for the showdown with Skoglund at Arena Nord in Frederikshavn, Denmark, and he impressed representatives of the WBC so much that they vowed to give Blackledge a chance to land the Youth World super middleweight title on these shores.
“I think the WBC appreciated the risk we had taken with Luke having to step up in class, fighting someone of Erik’s calibre in his own back yard,” said Maree. “They said they’d put him forward and it’s come to fruition so we’re really happy especially with the fight being staged locally.”
Explosive Gambian fighter Patrick Mendy has been earmarked as a potential opponent for Blackledge ahead of the contest at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium on July 20th, though nothing has yet been set in stone. But Blackledge has had the grounding to reign supreme over anybody put before him following sparring sessions with the likes of Tony Bellew, Paul Smith and Matty Askin.
“He’ll be fighting at the top of the bill which is brilliant for Luke and it shows that sometimes it’s worth taking risks and at times you have to take a few steps back to take a big stride forward,” Maree said. “I knew Luke would go over there and do himself justice.
“We’re just waiting for an opponent now so things will get a lot more exciting when we hear. But as we all know Luke will fight anyone which is a breath of fresh air for any trainer. We’ve had him sparring with some class opponents in preparation so we’re confident. He deserves his chance and he won’t let this one go now.”
And providing everything goes to plan, Maree has his sights set on the British belt that was vacated by Blackledge’s stablemate Kenny Anderson.
“It’s recognition for the work he’s done over the years and shown how much he’s improved. He can then kick on and fight for more prestigious belts against bigger opponents. If he wins this then the logical step would be to nominate him for a British title.”