Luke staying active as he looks to make step up

Luke Blackledge and trainer Alex Matvienko celebrate the win over Ishmael Tetteh. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Luke Blackledge and trainer Alex Matvienko celebrate the win over Ishmael Tetteh. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Luke Blackledge is staying true to his word by staying active throughout 2016 in a bid to make the next step up in his career.

The 25-year-old opened his account for the calendar year when stopping Ghanaian Ishmael Tetteh in the fifth round of his second Commonwealth title defence at the Macron Stadium last month.

The Clitheroe super-middleweight is set to return to Manchester’s Bowlers Exhibition Centre - the scene of his fifth professional triumph - on July 16th in a six-round contest with an opponent yet to be confirmed.

Blackledge, who has 21 wins from 25 outings, revealed that his team, led by coach Alex Matvienko, is looking at arranging a ‘ticking over’ contest against Christian Gomez.

The 21-year-old, who was born in Cadiz, Andalucía, Spain, but resides in Plymouth, was beaten by Dale Coyne on the undercard of Jack Catterall’s WBO Inter-Continental super-lightweight title win over Joe Hughes.

“I’m glad just to get a few rounds in because I haven’t been that active,” he said. “I want to be more active this year so it’s ideal. There are a few opponents that we are looking at but nothing has been confirmed.

“He (Gomez) fought Dale Coyne on the same evening as my fight and he was a forward fighter, scrappy, so we’re trying to get him.

“He would try and stick it on me so it would be a good test. It’d be a good fight for the fans who come and support me as well. It would be an entertaining contest.”

The 168lb champion will then look to get back out for another defence of his strap in September before following orders from the Commonwealth Boxing Council and taking on mandatory challenger Zac Dunn in December.

“It’s important for me to keep ticking over now until I get the big fights,” said Blackledge. “One more defence and I could be looking to step up to European level or even a world title shot. We’ll just have to weigh up our options.

“I’ve got one more defence and then the mandatory. We’re looking at getting another top 10 British fighter. I want a good test against strong opposition because that’s when I’m at my best. I want to keep climbing the British rankings and people want to see big fights in the UK.”

That man won’t be Jamie Cox, the WBO European champion who was recently cleared of assaulting ex-girlfriend Viktoria Gribovskaja and freed from prison.

The Swindon-based southpaw, who won a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2006, has since had his suspension from boxing revoked after having his conviction overturned.

“Jamie would’ve been a good fight and one I would’ve loved to take but I’m not giving him the voluntary after his behaviour on social media,” said Blackledge. “He’s been running his mouth off on Twitter and he’s annoyed me. I won’t be giving him the opportunity now.

“Paul Smith gave me a voluntary for his British title so I would return the favour. We’re just trying to get a big name. There are loads of top super-middleweights though because it’s the most exciting division.”

One man that Blackledge would still love to face is British middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jr.

The British number one faces Tom Doran at London’s O2 Arena on June 25th, on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s IBF World heavyweight title clash with Dominic Breazeale, and Blackledge is predicting an upset.

“I still want to fight Eubank Jr for his British title as well,” he said. “I would drop down to middleweight for that.

“I think Tom Doran has got a good chance of beating him though.

“A lot of people are under-estimating him but he’ll trouble Eubank Jr if he sticks it on him.

“They don’t like pressure - it was the same with his dad when he fought Steve Collins twice. I would stick it right on him from the start. I’d take that fight tomorrow and I’d beat him.”

He added: “I’m looking at much bigger things now. This is like the stepping stone to the next big level now. I just want another tough, 50/50 fight now because that’s where I shine.

“All the experience I’m getting now is helping me for when I make the step up.”