Boxing has a reputation of being plagued by politics, promoters and money.
While some fighters put blood, sweat and tears in to the sport for a meagre pay day, others get a free ride in to the top 10 on the gravy train provided by boxing’s conglomerates.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, Frank Warren and Mick Hennessy have monopolised the sport and it comes as no surprise to see their respective stables dominating.
The up-and-comers in Luke Blackledge’s super middleweight division have all been moulded by one of the aforementioned czars of boxing. They may have proven ability - but James DeGale, George Groves, Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding, among others, have all been helped along the way.
Blackledge, on the other hand, has engineered his own success. The 24-year-old has worked his way up from the basement to a shot at the WBC International Silver title. And it’s his own graft and determination that’s ultimately propelled his career.
On Saturday Alex Matvienko’s student faces Ghana’s Philip Kotey for the fringe world strap in a 12-round contest which headlines the first ever professional show to be held at Blackburn’s King George’s Hall.
“This is my big chance so I can’t afford any slip-ups now,” he said. “I’ve just got to do the business now. I’m fighting Philip Kotey from Ghana. He’s got a good record with 29 wins and 22 by knockout. He’s fought at world level and gone up against Kell Brook. He’s an experienced opponent so this will be a good step up for me.
“This is my chance to impact on the WBC rankings so I’ve been training hard for it. I’ve been working on my defence, technique and fitness but I’ve only had a week to work towards fighting my opponent.”
Blackledge, who beat Jody Meikle and Darren McKenna in recent outings, added: “I can’t wait. I could be up there with some big names and that would be amazing. This could open doors. I’ve got to box smart because he’s a big puncher so I can’t rush in. I’m looking forward to appearing on the card’s main event in a 12-rounder. The show is a sell out so it’s going to be brilliant.
“Two good wins this year has helped me towards this contest. I want to keep improving because I love the sport. I love training and I love boxing. Now I want to make the most of it.”