Alex Matvienko has given Commonwealth champion Luke Blackledge a glowing report ahead of his highly anticipated title defence live on BoxNation.
The Elite Boxing coach, who brought an end to his own career five-and-a-half years ago, has taken his 25-year-old student back to school in his latest training camp and administered a comprehensive education in the sport.
The ‘One Man Riot’, who retired as a British Masters belt holder at 154lbs, has had a team of tutors working on Blackledge ahead of his scrap against Lee Markham at the Manchester Arena on Saturday, where he features on the undercard of WBO World title fights involving Terry Flanagan and Liam Smith.
Coaches Carl Usher and Sean Fogg have been instrumental in the process alongside nutritionist Sam Bradbury, strength coach Scott Mitchell, conditioning coach Tom McNeill, physio Joe Lloyd and staff at Cryo Elements in Blackburn.
The group have combined to leave no stone unturned in their bid to help the super-middleweight fighter retain a title once owned by the likes of Carl Froch, James DeGale and George Groves.
“The camp has been brilliant,” said Matvienko. “As soon as the fight was confirmed Luke’s attitude completely changed. He’s starting to believe and we are seeing some significant differences now. He’s definitely maturing. He’s listening more and he’s adapted his lifestyle.
He’s not the kamikaze fighter that he once wasAlex Matvienko
“It’s all coming together. He’s starting to get a really good boxing brain. He knows how to set traps now, he’s getting more strategic and he’s planning. He’s not the kamikaze fighter that he once was.
“He can fight on the front foot or on the back foot, he knows when to rest and when to stop off. He’s becoming a more rounded fighter.”
He added: “Boxing is a game of chess now. It’s about hitting and not getting hit back. We want Luke to keep his aggression but we want him to control it and be clever with it. He has improved ridiculously.
“If Luke can stick to the game plan that we’ve set for him then even more people will start to take notice. He’s got a prestigious title, he’s going to go down in history, but he’s not finished yet.
“He’s been a professional athlete for several years, but he’s only recently implemented that mentality outside the gym too.
“He’s only going to get better and stronger now. His mindset has changed and he knows what he wants. He’s a confident fighter now and with that you can run through walls.”
Anybody wanting tickets for the fight can contact Luke on 07718 948682.