HERE’S a name to look out for in the boxing world – Luke Blackledge.
The 20-year-old has been taught the tricks of the MMA trade by Clitheroe’s former Cage Warriors Fight Championship light- heavyweight champion, Cage Rage light- heavyweight champion and The Ultimate Fighter 3 light heavyweight tournament winner Michael Bisping.
And now he’s mixing it with the best of British boxing, sparring with reigning Commonwealth Games light-heavyweight champion Kenny Anderson and former super middleweight champion Tony Quigley.
But that’s not the most impressive story to stem from the Ribble Valley fighter’s brief career. As a 15-year-old, Blackledge was involved in petty crime, was violent towards his peers and had become reliant on smoking the recreational drug, cannabis. He then spent 15 months in a young offenders prison before turning his life around and finding solace within the four walls of a resoundingly different constitution – a gym.
“It was my stepdad Stephen Molyneux who got me in to it really,” Luke said. “I was always getting into loads of trouble on the streets and boxing has since kept me out of bother. I’d definitely recommend the sport to other people because it does give you a lifeline.
“If you’re going boxing every day at the gym, then you’re not going to have the time or energy to cause trouble. It gives you a lot of discipline and focus and you’ve got to behave yourself. I’m in the gym six days a week now. It’s hard work but it’s all worth it. Any kind of training is hard work; there isn’t any easy sports.”
After being mentored by Bisping, Luke turned his attentions to boxing where he won 25 consecutive fights in his two years as a novice. The super-middleweight’s professional debut came in October as he recorded a devastating victory over Birmingham’s Stuart Tordoff as he forced a stoppage in the fifth round.
“I’ve been doing it for just over two years now and I turned pro recently. I had a kick-boxing background, but my training was similar so I was used to it.
“I had to spar in front of the boxing board to get my pro licence and they thought I was good enough. I did a lot of training in boxing when I did kick-boxing so it all came naturally, and I stopped him in the fifth round on my debut. I was absolutely chuffed to bits with it.”
Luke’s forthcoming quest is a six-round battle with journeyman James Tucker at Colne Muni tomorrow evening in front of a bumper crowd. However, Luke will be bouncing back into the squared circle with the ambition of claiming another KO.
“My work rate is a massive strength for me and I’m a good body puncher. When you land a good shot underneath the ribs they’re going down because it’s tough to recover from that.
“I’m really keen and I’m hungry for it. I’ve been going to lots of different gyms to spar. I’ve sparred with Kenny Anderson about 15 times in preparation for this fight, Tony Quigley and WBA champion Robin Reid, so I’ve been sparring with some top fighters ranked in Britain’s top 10. I’m confident about the fight.
“I’m really happy with the way things are going. I’m definitely going to go in to my next fight and try to stop him.”