Clitheroe boxer keen to maintain progress

Luke Blackledge (right) lands a right hook on the jaw of Phill Fury on his way to victory during the light middleweight bout at EventCity, Manchester
Luke Blackledge (right) lands a right hook on the jaw of Phill Fury on his way to victory during the light middleweight bout at EventCity, Manchester
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BOXER Luke Blackledge will be ranked inside Britain’s top 10 within the next year according to his trainer Jason Curtis.

The light-heavyweight, currently pinned at number 22, has won all seven of his bouts, including two stoppages, since embarking on a professional career at the end of 2010.

And now Curtis, who runs Kokoro Pro-Boxing gym in Accrington, has backed the 21-year-old to launch a serious assault on the British pyramid, starting with a contest with Robert Studzinski at Oldham Sports Centre on Saturday.

“If he maintains his focus and dedication then there’s no reason why he can’t go all the way,” insisted Curtis. “He’s ranked number 22 in Britain now and I think he will be in the top 10 this time next year. It would be an amazing achievement.

“There’s only the top three or four who I wouldn’t take the fight with at the moment, but that’s only because Luke needs that experience. He could be a British title challenger in the next 18 months to two years.”

The Clitheroe fighter beat Dean Walker at Colne Muni in December and Curtis is expecting a similar result against Studzinski: “He’s supposed to be a tough, come-forward Polish fighter. He will give Luke a challenge but if he sticks to his gameplan then I can’t see him losing it. He will make it hard for him and it will be a good test physically and mentally but I don’t see Luke having a problem.”

It’s all happening thick and fast for Blackledge who defeated Joe Walsh, Phill Fury and Walker in the space of 49 days at the back end of 2011, a feat that Curtis claims he has become accustomed to.

“He’s been training for three years with me now and he’s had 37 fights, seven as a professional, in that period,” he said. “He’s used to fighting regularly; the more they come the better it is for him. He’s always worked hard in the gym, he’s a fit lad and he’s very keen. The more the merrier.”

The next step for Blackledge, should the expected happen on Saturday, could be a central area title contest versus last term’s Prizefighter winner and Frank Warren’s unbeaten supper-middleweight protégé Rocky Fielding.

“I’m not sure it will come off because they like to protect their own fighters,” Curtis said. “He’s managed by Frank Warren and won all nine of his pro bouts.

“They might see it as a bit of a risk, an avenue they wouldn’t want to take just yet, but we would be prepared to risk it.

“We would be confident, absolutely. I wouldn’t take any fight for Luke unless I thought he could win it.

“It would certainly be a step up with 10 rounds, a big jump, but he’d work hard for it.”

And as far as Blackledge’s progress goes, Curtis added: “I’m not surprised at all. I’ve believed in him from the beginning.

“I took him all over the country as an amateur and he’s put the work in since to get where he is now. It’s incredible that he’s got so far so fast but I’m not surprised.”