British title challenger Luke Blackledge has declared that he won’t “Surrender” for anybody in his pursuit of the Lonsdale Belt.
The 26-year-old Clitheroe fighter was dealt a rude awakening in his latest outing when he was left “All Shook Up” in the first round of his contest against Elvis Dube.
The super-middleweight looked out for the count and heading for “Heartbreak Hotel” when decked by a crushing overhand right after just two minutes and five seconds of the bout at Bolton Whites Hotel, situated at the Macron Stadium.
However, despite being unconvincing on his feet, Alex Matvienko’s charge went on to recover remarkably well and continued to “Shake, Rattle and Roll”.
Blackledge, who had been scheduled to face Josef Obeslo before the Czech Republic boxer’s late withdrawal, said: “I got caught but that’s boxing. It wasn’t my best performance but it’s difficult to get motivated when there’s a bigger challenge on the horizon.
“I picked up a lot from the fight, most importantly that I should never under-estimate anyone. I under-estimated him, I was complacent, and I got lazy with my jab and left my hands down. I got caught over the top as a result.”
He added: “I was caught in the first round and when it landed I was completely gone. The shots that you don’t see coming are the ones that hurt you and I only realised when I was on the floor.
“My legs just gave way. It was a heavy knock down and it took me time to recover. It was a good right hand and I nearly got counted out.”
The former Commonwealth champion at 168lbs is in the shape of his life, though, and he feels that contributed significantly to the recovery process.
Though he admits that he felt the brute force of the punch for a few rounds afterwards, Blackledge showed the strength of character to battle through and win the bout convincingly.
“I just wanted to fight and I’m glad I did because I got a good six rounds in,” he said. “It was a good experience and I recovered well to get the win.
“It was a good fight, I got the win, but the bigger picture is that it was a warm up for my British title fight. I’ve learnt from it, I’ll move on and now I’ll concentrate on my big fight.
“I’m definitely happy with the character that I showed. I didn’t fully recover from the knock down until about the fourth round. It takes a lot to keep me down though and I won’t stay down for anybody. I won’t quit.”
Meanwhile, the challenger for Callum Smith’s throne has vowed to be a different animal at the Manchester Arena next month as he acknowledges that it’s “Now or Never” for him.
And he won’t be put off by the champion’s power, despite his recent knock down. “I know Callum Smith has got power; everybody knows that he’s got power,” he said.
“But most people at that level possess power and that’s why we are where we are. I suffered a flash knock down against a cruiser-weight, it was a good shot and it’s one of those things. Smith can certainly whack but he isn’t a cruiser-weight.
“There’ll be plenty that I’ll be working on from that fight. I’ll be moving my head more and I won’t be dropping my hands as much. I’m straight back in the gym and I’ll be ready to go.
“I’m very confident and you’ll see a different Luke Blackledge next month.
“I’m a different animal when I’m up against it and I need to perform.
“I’ll be the same fighter that I was against Liam Cameron and Lee Markham, only better. I’ll step it up another level and up my game.”