Paul Smith’s reported contractual issues with promoter Frank Warren may have temporarily scuppered Luke Blackledge’s dreams of donning the Lonsdale belt, but the Clitheroe fighter is still training like a champion.
The current British 168lb champion, nicknamed the “Real Gone Kid”, revealed last week that he had ended all contractual relations with his promoter and any of his companies as of Friday, November 1st and as a result would not be appearing on the ‘History Boys’ show at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on December 7th. The revelation came just days after the BBBofC suspended his brother Stephen’s licence pending the outcome of his managerial contract dispute with Warren.
“I’m just waiting to hear something on a few things,” said Blackledge. “I’ll still be fighting on the bill whether it’s against Paul Smith or not. If it’s not against him, then he should be stripped of his title because the same thing happened with his brother.
“It would be great to still fight for the Lonsdale belt. That’s what I’ve been working so hard toward and the aim is still to become British champion. Until I hear otherwise I’ll get my head down and continue training as I would for a British title fight. I want that belt.”
And preparation for what was supposed to be the biggest fight of Blackledge’s career to date couldn’t have gone any better. The 23-year-old has been learning and competing with the best in the business after sharing 50 rounds of sparring with Carl Froch at Sheffield’s Institute of Sport.
The Cobra was set to spar with Kevin Maree’s protege for the final time today ahead of his WBA and IBF super-middleweight title defence against George Groves at Manchester’s Phones 4u Arena on November 23rd.
“I’d done 12 rounds sparring with Carl Froch last week and was on a massive high but then I found out that Smith had pulled out,” stated Blackledge. “I was devastated. But I’m sparring again with Froch today. My preparation won’t stop just because my opponent is messing about.
“I’ve been sparring Froch for the past month. I’ve sparred about 50 rounds with him and it’s felt harder than an actual fight in each one. I couldn’t get better experience or preparation than that. It’s all coming together; I’m feeling sharp and I’m on weight now so I’m ready to fight. I’ll be sparring with Mark Heffron as well who is absolutely quality.”
Blackledge added: “Sparring with Froch was an unbelievable experience. You’ve got to be sharp and on your game at all times. He’s class and his footwork is great. He told me that he thought I could beat Paul Smith so getting compliments like that gives me lots of confidence.
“After sparring with Froch I don’t think George Groves has got a chance at all. It feels good to have been a part of his preparations as well. I’ll definitely be watching his fight.”