Luke looking to step up in weight

Callum Smith (right) in action against Luke Blackledge during their British Super-Middleweight Championship bout at the Manchester Arena. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday December 10, 2016. See PA story BOXING Manchester. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Callum Smith (right) in action against Luke Blackledge during their British Super-Middleweight Championship bout at the Manchester Arena. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday December 10, 2016. See PA story BOXING Manchester. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Luke Blackledge’s second shot at the British title might be handed to him sooner than expected but the Clitheroe fighter will need to put on the pounds in his bid to land the Lonsdale Belt.

Whispers have already started to circulate suggesting that the 26-year-old could be the man put forward by the British Boxing Board of Control as Frank Buglioni’s first defence at light-heavyweight.

It’s a contest that the former Commonwealth super-middleweight champion has been seeking for some time, though negotiations broke down amid plans to pair the duo up at 168lbs in the past.

“I’ve been offered a fight against Frank Buglioni but nothing has been confirmed yet,” said Blackledge, who trains under Alex Matvienko at Elite Boxing. “I’ll have to step up to light-heavyweight to challenge him for his belt but if I can get it I’ll be buzzing. It would be for his British title.

“I’ve been wanting this fight for a while but it never came off at super-middleweight. The fact that I’m willing to step up in weight shows how confident I am.

“It’s another big opportunity for me to prove myself. It’s not a huge step up because he’s naturally been fighting at the same weight as me.

“It’s a slight risk but it’s one that I’m willing to take. I’m at that level now so I want the big fights to keep coming.”

The Londoner, who hails from Enfield, ensured that the scorecards were made redundant when stopping champion Hosea Burton in the 12th round of their bout, held on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s triumph over Eric Molina at the Manchester Arena.

Blackledge accepts that he was impressed with his rivals’ victory, and the manner in which it came, but admitted that he hasn’t seen any footage of the battle back yet.

Blackledge, who boasts 22 wins from 27 outings in the professional ranks, was in the dressing room preparing for his scrap with Callum Smith while Buglioni was in action.

“It was a really good win for him against Hosea Burton,” he said. “I didn’t see any of it because he was on just before me but it was supposed to have been a really good fight. I’ll sit down and watch it once the fight is confirmed.

“It would be a tough fight but every fight at this level is going to be tough. I’m a confident fighter anyway but I’ve fought one of the biggest punchers in Callum Smith now and I don’t think anyone else will hit like that. Smith is a knockout specialist. He’s a special fighter so fair play to him.

“Frank can punch; he’s big and he’s strong. I’ll need to have a good game plan going in to that fight. He came on strong against Burton but it was something that he had to do because he was losing the fight.”

Looking ahead at the schedule for 2017, Blackledge claims that he’s most looking forward to the blockbuster between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko for the holder’s IBF World heavyweight title and the vacant WBA Super and IBO World straps at Wembley Stadium in April.

“I’m really looking forward to the heavyweight contest between AJ and Klitschko this year,” he said.

“If I could get on the undercard of that, fighting Buglioni, it would be amazing. That would be the pinnacle of my career so far.”