Clitheroe boxer Luke Blackledge has vowed to take the British super-middleweight crown this year.
With holder Paul Smith stepping on to the world stage, with a rematch against WBO world champion Arthur Abraham penned in for February 21st in Berlin, the 24-year-old WBC Silver International supremo is ready to rise to the challenge.
“This year I will be crowned British champion,” said Blackledge. “I think 2015 is going to be a big year for me. I think I’ll shock a lot of people who might not think that I’m capable of winning a British title. I’ve changed my lifestyle to suit, I’m driven and I’m taking it seriously. I’m always working hard and that will make a difference.”
Alex Matvienko’s student had been scheduled to fight the Real Gone Kid back in November 2013 during Smith’s tenure with promoter Frank Warren. Complications prevented the contest from going ahead, leading to Blackledge taking on Rocky Fielding for the Commonwealth strap at late notice instead.
“I was supposed to fight Paul Smith for the British title not so long ago and now he’s got a world title shot out of the blue,” he said. “He hasn’t really done anything to deserve it in my opinion.
“I’m hoping to fight for the British now that it’s been vacated. I sparred with Paul ahead of his fight with Tony Dodson and he gave me a voluntary title shot afterwards. He then pulled out at two weeks notice and I ended up taking the fight with Rocky Fielding at the last minute.
“His journey does give you hope though. He won the British title and now he’s fighting on the world stage. I’m willing to take chances and I’m always wanting to learn and improve. Hopefully I’ll get my chance one day because I want that opportunity.”
While Blackledge awaits the call for such an opportunity, he’ll fly out to Abraham’s training camp in Germany to help polish the Armenian’s preparations for his defence.
“I’m flying out to spar Arthur Abraham next week for a month,” he said. “That should help with my development. Abraham’s a world champion so the experience will improve me as a fighter but there’s also a few European champions in the camp who I’ll be sparring with as well.
“I learn a lot when I’m out there training with a world champion and I pick up on things that he does. I’m looking forward to going over there. I wasn’t available for his first fight with Smith, but I’m available this time!
“It’s a tough spar and I have my work cut out but he doesn’t knock me around the ring. I hold my own in there. It really helps with my confidence. I’ve sparred Carl Froch over 12 rounds as well which was another great experience. It all helps bring me on.”