Kevin Maree has vowed to turn Luke Blackledge back in to the aggressive, all action fighter that struck fear in to the hearts of his opponents.
The revered boxing coach claims that he has unfinished business with the former Commonwealth champion and is temporarily stepping out of retirement to finish what he started with the 27-year-old.
Carl Frampton’s former tutor, who also guided the likes of Michael Gomez, Kenny Anderson and Yassine El Maachi through their careers, worked with the British title challenger earlier in his professional tenure, concluding in a heart-breaking loss to Rocky Fielding in 2013.
Maree believes that some of the nuances of Blackledge’s unconventional and unpolished traits, which made him such a tricky customer to face, have been tampered with and now he’s prepared to reboot and re-programme.
Having worked with Alex Matvienko at Elite Boxing in Bolton for the last four years, which brought a brief spell at Michael Jennings’ stable in Chorley, the Clitheroe pugilist will be re-tuned by Maree and former professional Jeff Thomas.
Ahead of Blackledge’s contest on the ‘Jolly Boys’ VIP show at the VW Hotel in Manchester on December 17th, Maree said: “I’m helping out. I seem to be doing more now than when I retired. I’ve never not done stuff with Luke.
“He’s had a few bad results and he’s got a fight coming up in December. Nobody knows him better than me so I’m helping him out for this fight if Jeff Thomas works with him too.
“I’ll be involved as much as I can. We’ll work with him, try to remould him and go on a successful run.
“I’m taking it fight by fight. I’m expecting my second child early next month so we’ll see how things go.
“It’s got to be right for everyone involved. We’ll just see what is the best scenario for Luke at the time. He’s got a fight next month first and it’s one that he can’t afford to lose.
“We’ve got to simplify things again with Luke. He’s an aggressive, all action, marauding fighter. We’ve got to reinstall that style and make him as safe as possible.
“We’ve got to coach him to stay inside and not create these gaps when he comes out. He’s been stopped in a few fights now. He’s got to go back to that.
“We want to build his strength and power up again and I think he’ll be much stronger at Middleweight.”
With Tommy Langford set to make the first defence of his Lonsdale Belt against Jack Arnfield at Winter Gardens in Blackpool in February, Maree feels optimistic that Blackledge could get a shot at the victor and finally realise his dream of becoming British champion.
“I would love for him to get a British title shot,” he said. “There’s definitely an opening for him at Middleweight.
“Jack Arnfield and Tommy Langford fight soon for the belt and Luke would have to fancy his chances against either of those. That’s definitely a fight that could be made early next year. I would love him to do it.
“If Luke does what he does best and fights on the chest, doesn’t allow his opponents to breathe, then he has a chance.
“He’s a pressure fighter, that’s his style, and he’s got a good engine for it. Luke should be winning a British title.
“He’s got to go back to what he was doing and if he wins something and I can be a part of that then I’ll be very proud. It would be special to see him grow from being an unlicensed fighter to a British champion.”
Anybody interested in purchasing tickets for Blackledge’s 31st professional contest can contact him on 07864 816272.