Luke has the world at his feet

Luke Blackledge celebrates retaining his Commonwealth after a unanimous points win over Lee Markahm
Luke Blackledge celebrates retaining his Commonwealth after a unanimous points win over Lee Markahm

There’s no ceiling to Luke Blackledge’s ambition.

And with promoter Frank Warren by his side, the 25-year-old Commonwealth champion could live out all his dreams.

The BoxNation businessman is understandably keen to push the super-middleweight towards a final eliminator for the IBF World strap, owned by fellow Brit James DeGale.

The British number seven had contemplated making the step up when Terry Flanagan makes the second defence of his WBO World lightweight title against Derry Matthews at Liverpool’s Echo Arena next month, but declined the opportunity.

“It was just too soon, so I didn’t feel like I had enough time to prepare for a fight like that,” he said. “I would’ve only had around five weeks.

“But that’s what Frank and my manager, Steve Woods, are pushing for. That chance should come later in the year.

“I’m still looking to fight on that bill, but it will probably be an eight-rounder. A decent performance there will keep pushing me forward.

“I’m going to stay in the gym and work hard all year. It’s going to be a busy 2016 for me.”

DeGale, who landed the vacant belt against Andre Dirrell before defending his crown against Lucian Bute in November, has been told he must face Venezuelan foe Jose Uzcategui, with the mandatory contest required to take place before February 28th.

And Blackledge believes he’ll get his turn.

“Frank likes to push his fighters,” he said. “Jimmy Kelly was given a world title shot against Liam Smith shortly after signing a deal.

“I’ll be getting those big fights soon and we’ll be going down the IBF route.

“I’m not in a rush, but if they want to push me for it, I’ll be ready. It’s incredible and shows how far I’ve come since my days as an unlicensed fighter.

“I’d appreciate the opportunity more than most. I can’t wait and I’m excited about this year.”

Blackledge, trained by Alex Matvienko, added: “I’ve improved massively, and I’m really starting to believe in myself. I’m not far off that level now.

“I’ve sparred with a few world class fighters like Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch, I more than held my own and I’ve improved since.

“I’m just a fight or two away from getting my shot. The fight with DeGale would be a big fight in Britain.

“It’s a tough fight because he’s a great athlete and a southpaw. It would be a massive test for me, but he is beatable.”