Clitheroe boxer Luke Blackledge knows he’s going to have to produce something pretty spectacular to eclipse the year he’s just had.
The 25-year-old, trained by Elite Boxing’s Alex Matvienko, may not have been as active as he would’ve liked but the super-middleweight has been crowned Commonwealth champion, defended his title, climbed to seventh in the British rankings and signed a contract with Frank Warren’s BoxNation.
Blackledge (20-2-2) overpowered Liam Cameron at Blackburn King George’s Hall in April, landing a unanimous decision victory, and emulated that performance against Lee Markham at the Manchester Arena last month on the undercard of Terry Flanagan’s and Liam Smith’s respective WBO World title triumphs.
There won’t be another defence of his crown before the curtains come down on 2015, but Blackledge is expecting to feature at Winter Gardens in Blackpool on December 12th on a bill that will include Shayne Singleton’s return.
“I won’t be making another defence of my Commonwealth title - it’s just another run out before the end of the year,” he said.
“It’ll keep me ticking over and hopefully take me in to the New Year on the back of a win.
“There haven’t been any names put forward to me about an opponent yet though.
“I definitely want a decent test to finish the year off with. I’ve spoken to my manager and he says he’ll try to get me an eight-rounder sorted.
“It’s all about finishing the year with victory and taking that in to 2016.”
Blackledge added: “It’ll be good to have the belt with me at Christmas and that tops off a good year.
“I wasn’t really expecting to achieve all this at the start of the year but it’s been great.
“I would’ve liked to have had more fights but they’ve both been tough 12-rounders.
“I’ve been out in Germany sparring a number of champions and I’ve signed a big contract with Frank Warren too.”
World title challenger Paul Smith, who has taken on Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward this year, has already identified a potential match-up with Blackledge next year.
The 33-year-old Liverpudlian, a former British champion at 168lbs, claimed that he would be keen to challenge Blackledge’s reign while adding the prestigious Lonsdale Belt to the prize pool should his brother, Callum, vacate the title.
Swindon’s WBO European champion Jamie Cox, who boasts a perfect record from 20 contests, is another high profile name that has been mentioned while a rematch with Rocky Fielding could also be on the cards.
“Next year is going to be very big,” said Blackledge.
“I’ve already been offered some massive fights so I can already gauge how huge it’s going to be.
“There has already been talks of Paul Smith, Jamie Cox and the possibility of a rematch with Rocky Fielding.
“I’m ready for these kind of fights now. I don’t really have any other choice because that’s the level I’m fighting at now.
“I want to try and make the step up to European level by the end of next year as well.
“That’s the goal after making a couple more defences of my Commonwealth.
“I’m going to have to do something special next year to top this one.”