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Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

December 8, 2016

If you don't ask...

Luke Blackledge

Luke Blackledge had zero amateur experience and now fights for a British title on Saturday night.

by Craig Scott

The magnitude of the task facing Luke Blackledge (22-2-2, 7 KOs) on Saturday night against Callum Smith (21-0, 16 KOs) is not lost on the man from Clitheroe.

Blackledge, 26, squares off against the world rated Smith (WBC #1, IBF #4, WBO #8) for the Liverpudlian’s British super-middleweight title. 

Talking Boxing caught up with Blackledge at the beginning of the week, and he admitted it was his biggest fight to date. 

“It's a big occasion for me but obviously I'm an experienced pro now and this is what I want, and this is what I've asked for,” said Blackledge.

“It's my time now to show everyone why I've asked for it.”

Undefeated for three years, Blackledge goes into the Saturday’s fight as a massive underdog. Smith, the WBC mandatory challenger (currently awaiting the winner of Badou Jack v James DeGale) has impressed so far, but Blackledge holds no fear over the task ahead. 

"I am confident and I will be going in this fight obviously to win,” said Blackledge.

“You know, that's my dream and I want this more than anything. So, I won't be lying down for no-one!" 

This latest effort to win the Lonsdale belt is the second time that Blackledge was due to face one of the Smith brothers for the British 168lbs title. Blackledge lost a first round stoppage at four days’ notice against Rocky Fielding three years ago, but it was meant to be a different Scouser in the opposite corner.

"I was never supposed to fight Rocky,” said Blackledge.

“I was supposed to fight Paul Smith (Callum's elder brother) for the British. He pulled out on me and now I'm fighting someone who's mandatory for the world title."  

Whilst their fight may be further down Saturday’s pay-per-view card, headlined by Anthony Joshua vs. Eric Molina, it certainly serves up an interesting prospect. Is Callum Smith the real deal? Can Luke Blackledge upset the apple-cart? 

"I'm a fighter. I'll fight anyone, anywhere. You just gotta look at my record,” the challenger told us.  

"Look at where I've been. I've been abroad twice. No-one actually wanted to fight Callum. I asked to fight Callum for the British. That's why he hasn't defended the British title cos no-one was gonna fight Callum for the British but I actually put my name forward." 

He takes an eight-fight win streak with him to the Manchester Arena and is happy to risk it all. His resumé has expanded drastically since his loss to Fielding and from speaking to him it was evident he had worked hard for his time in the limelight. Whilst many fighters win and vacate their domestic titles, Blackledge places a lot of importance on the belt, 

"I see the British like a world title cos it's every fighters dream to win."

With his willingness to battle Smith, his hunger and desire were clear, but his views on the sport itself might come as a surprise to some.

"To be honest, I wouldn't recommend this game to f*****g anyone. The boxing, I love. Even if I wasn't getting paid I would be training, I would be fighting I love the sport but it's a hard game you know?" 

The former Commonwealth super-middleweight champion had zero amateur experience which, for a fighter who has reached this level is uncommon. 

"I've done it off my own back, just grafting basically. I didn't have one amateur fight so it's a hard game, but I just love it. I love fighting. It keeps me on the straight and narrow and keeps me off the streets so I love it."

Without many giving Blackledge a chance, his refreshingly honest approach to the sport and to his career should earn him recognition. Whether he wins on Saturday or not is another matter, but boxing is Luke Blackledge's life.