Luke Blackledge has taken a little bit of time out of the ring to re-evaluate and re-adjust, but the offers certainly haven’t dried up.
The 28-year-old, who out-pointed Harry Matthews at Victoria Warehouse on his last outing in December, is back on the boxing beat after taking a step back to consider his options.
The former Commonwealth super-middleweight champion had flown out to Tenerife to undergo a week of warm weather training ahead of his return at Bolton Whites Hotel on May 11th.
“There are a few pro gyms in Tenerife,” he said. “I was at one in Playa de las Américas, where all the professionals go. Jamie Moore takes his stable over there quite a lot.
“There are two British champions out there, Ryan and Liam Walsh, who train there for most of the year.”
Blackledge, who was paired with Spaniard Adasat Rodriguez during his brief stay in the Canary Islands, revealed that he’d recently declined offers to fight a couple of big name stars.
Danish southpaw Patrick Nielsen, who lost a split decision against Arthur Abraham 12 months ago, was the man put forward in the first instance while Egyptian knockout specialist Ahmed Elbiali was a potential opponent in America.
Blackledge said: “Adasat’s a champion with a really good record. The sparring went well, though I only had a few sessions out there due to injuries.
“I’m fighting in two weeks’ time and I’m in a good place at the moment. I’m feeling sharp and looking to get back down to super-middleweight.
“I’ve been offered two fights at light-heavyweight against two world class operators. One was in America and the other was on one of Eddie Hearn’s shows.
“I watched the guy who I’d been offered to take on in America. He’s hard, a big puncher, an unbelievable boxer, and he’s fought at cruiserweight. In this case the risk wasn’t worth the reward.”
The 168lb Clitheroe fighter, who has triumphed in 25 of his 33 professional contests, returned to Britain with the promise of sparring Billy Joe Saunders.
Blackledge joined the former WBO World champion at Ricky Hatton’s base in Hyde last week, moving around the ring under the watchful eye of Tyson Fury.
“I couldn’t wait to spar with Billy Joe Saunders,” he said. “His team contacted me a few times while I was out in Tenerife. They must’ve known I’d be the only one who would turn up!
“He’s a world class fighter and I’m a big fan of his. I got some top class rounds in the bank. He’s one of the best fighters I’ve been in with, it’s no wonder he’s avoided like he is.
“I wanted to test myself so I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. It’s all adding to the experience for me.”
Blackledge added: “I’m fighting at the Macron Stadium in Bolton on May 11th. I’m still going to have a busy year and see what opportunities come my way.
“I’m going to have to be far more disciplined with my training and nutrition. I’ve not been dedicated enough recently, I’ve not had that hunger for it.
“I’ve only got myself to blame for that. I lost the fire for a while but now I want to get myself back up there.
“I started cutting corners and I stopped doing everything that you need to do to be successful. I’m going to see how it goes and see how much I’ve got left in the tank.”