Boxing has hit a golden patch once again according to Clitheroe’s Commonwealth champion Luke Blackledge.
Frank Warren’s latest acquisition under the BoxNation umbrella believes the latest schedule shows that the sport is booming.
Gennady Golovkin has already sunk David Lemieux, Timothy Bradley stopped Brandon Rios in the ninth, Vasyl Lomachenko added a third KO to his catalogue against Romulo Koasicha while Callum Smith’s performance against Rocky Fielding smacked of a future world title contender.
On the horizon there’s Anthony Crolla’s rematch with Darleys Perez, Martin Murray challenges Arthur Abraham’s WBO World super-middleweight reign, the heavyweight world champion of four sanctioning bodies Wladimir Klitschko locks horns with Tyson Fury in Dusseldorf, James DeGale defends his IBF crown against Lucian Bute, Anthony Joshua takes on Dillian Whyte while Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders go head-to-head in their rescheduled bout.
“Of the British fighters the one I’m looking forward to the most is Klitschko against Fury,” said Blackledge. “Klitschko has been the champion for a decade, he’s the best there is, and in Fury you’ve got somebody who is young, confident and hungry.
“I’ve got to side with Klitschko though, probably via a points decision. Klitschko knows how to win fights, that’s why he’s been at the top for so long, and I think his experience as the home fighter will see him come through it.
“I expect Klitschko to show his class and negate whatever Fury has to offer but he’ll definitely cause him more problems than what David Haye did. He matches Klitschko in size and strength, so he’s got a puncher’s chance. I just think the champion is a classier boxer.”
The 25-year-old added: “There’s a few big fights that I’m looking forward to. There’s Murray’s fight with Abraham as well. I’ve been in Germany for the past three weeks prepping Abraham for the fight and I can tell you that it’s going to be a good contest.
“Murray’s got a good chance. I’ve sparred with him before; he’s young and in his prime. You can’t write Abraham off because he’s a big punching champion. I did a lot of rounds with him. This will be a great battle.”
Blackledge is also eagerly anticipating the “super fight” between Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday.
The ‘70s brought us Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier on two occasions, Ali v George Foreman and Roberto Duran v Sugar Ray Leonard, the 1980’s presented the triangular series between “Sugar”, Tommy “Hitman” Hearns and Marvin Hagler, the ‘90s saw Julio Cesar Chavez v Meldrick Taylor, Chris Eubank v Nigel Benn twice, Riddick Bowe v Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis v Frank Bruno and Oscar De La Hoya v Felix Trinidad.
And at the turn of the century the boxing world was treated to Erik Morales v Marco Antonio Barrera, Micky Ward v Arturo Gatti and Lewis v Mike Tyson.
Now Blackledge believes the forthcoming contest will also live up to its billing.
“It could turn out to be one of the best ‘super fights’ in a decade,” he said. “Mayweather v Pacquiao had a similar billing but it wasn’t great to watch.
“Mayweather was professional enough at the back end of his career to do enough in fights to win them without getting involved. He was a proper athlete and very effective with it.
“There’s a big rivalry in this fight. It’s Puerto Rico v Mexico and two of the biggest names on the planet. It’s going to be a war but I’m going with Canelo. I think he’ll be too big and too powerful for Cotto.”
It will be some task emulating the current period after the New Year, though Sergey Kovalev versus Jean Pascal has already been arranged for January 30th while Scott Quigg fights Carl Frampton at the Manchester Arena on February 27th.
“They’ll have to bill some huge fights in 2016 to surpass this period,” Blackledge said. “Boxing is becoming massive again; the sport is booming. There’ll be some big fights next year but the big one for me has to be Golovkin versus the winner of Cotto and Canelo.”