12 Rounds with Luke Blackledge

Published On Wednesday, October 8, 2014By British Boxing News
Related Tags: Luke Blackledge, 12 Rounds

BBN go 12 Rounds with Luke Blackledge

British Boxing News throw 12 rounds of questions at the newly-crowned WBC International Silver super middleweight champion, Luke Blackledge. The 24-year-old, now ranked in the top 10 in the UK and the top 40 in the WBC rankings, has revitalised his career after two losses in 2013 to Denmark's No.1 light heavyweight, Erik Skoglund and Liverpool's WBA Inter-Continental super middleweight champion, Rocky Fielding. The Blackburn super middleweight talks to BBN about his unlicensed pedigree, those last minute fights he persistently gets offered, and his aspirations for big TV fights in 2015. 

You had your professional debut against Stewart Tordoff at the Robin Park Centre in Wigan in October 2011 and came away with a fifth round stoppage win after knocking the Brummie down three times – once in the first round and twice in the fifth before referee Mark Lyson called a halt to the contest; do you still remember all of the emotions that you experienced on that special night? “Yeah, there were a lot of emotions for my first pro fight and I was well up for it. I’d had 60 unlicensed fights which were kind of similar to the pros with the 10oz gloves, so I had lot of experience going into that fight. Obviously, the levels are a lot different but I was well ready and confident.”

Tell us about the unlicensed circuit where you first plied your trade and the differences between that and the pros? “Unlicensed was just two minute rounds so there was a big difference. The training was different for the pros and dieting was completely different. Back doing unlicensed, I never would’ve thought that I would get to this level as a pro. I started training just for the love of boxing and to keep off the streets. I had 60 fights in three years in the unlicensed, fighting every other week. I did a Prizefighter tournament which meant me fighting three times in one night. I lost in the final of that because the kid I met got a bye in the last stage and came in as fresh as anything. I only lost one other fight so I had just two losses in 60 fights.”

You raced to an impressive 14 fight unbeaten record in just under 2 ½ years as a professional and then you met Erik Skoglund in Denmark for the vacant WBC Youth World light heavyweight title and WBO Intercontinental light heavyweight title. Stand-in opponent, Skoglund boasted a similar record to yours at 15(9)-0-0 and handed you your first ever defeat in the pros by UD with one judge scoring the contest just one point apart. Was that a 50-50 fight for you going into it? “To be honest I got stitched up in that fight, I was meant to fight Rudy Markussen but he pulled out and I got told to move up to light heavyweight to fight Erick Skoglund or I don’t get to fight at all. After a 10 week training camp and after all the money I had spent on my training camp, I wanted to fight still. He could punch, had a good Olympic record, was a world class amateur but I watched him and thought I could have beaten him. I felt strong and I had done 30 rounds with Tony Bellew in sparring. It was close and if it was over here then I would have got the decision but, as it happened, I was the away fighter in his backyard. But I wanted the fight because I felt confident.”

Moving on to just seven months later in November 2013 at the MEN Arena in Manchester, you suffered your first KO defeat at the hands of Rocky Fielding with the Commonwealth super middleweight title on the line. You took the fight at two days notice after two opponents for Steven Gerrard’s cousin pulled out in quick succession. Talk us through that week, it must have been pretty crazy for you, and if you could go back, would you still have taken the fight? “I took that fight on a Thursday and fought Rocky on the Saturday! I got the phone call after a hard six round spar with Ronnie Heffron. No one should be sparring in the week before they’re due to fight so that was the first mistake. I had been in a ten week training camp for the Paul Smith Jr. fight for the British title, but then he pulled out due to contractual issues with Frank Warren. We got the call from Paul Smith’s team as we were all heading back from Nottingham after my last spar of the camp with Carl Froch – we had done 60 rounds of sparring in all. It was a crazy week because Paul Smith was cancelled, then I was fighting again for the Commonwealth, so my head was all over the place.” 

On the subject of last minute fights, I understand that you had an opportunity to fight WBC super middleweight challenger, Andre Dirrell over in the States, can you explain what happened with that? “I won the WBC International Silver last month so I’m ranked in the top 40 in the WBC rankings now. They offered me the fight at three weeks notice and I actually really thought about taking the fight but there just wasn’t enough time to get in shape. To be honest, when my manager offered it, I said I’d take it but then, after some good advice, I knocked it back. After sparring 60 rounds with Froch and the prospect of being the underdog in a foreign country, I don’t mind it. In hindsight, it was best that I turned it down but if you watch the fight between Dirrell and Froch, it was very, very close. The only difference was that it as in Nottingham.”

You effectively ended former IBO and WBF World super middleweight champion, Mads Larsen’s career in February 2012 with a fourth round KO of Denmark’s ‘Golden Boy’. With Larsen’s impressive record of 51(38)-4(3)-0, is that the greatest achievement of your career so far? “Erm...yeah, I could say that. To be honest it was a very hard fight. He’d had a long time out and I stopped him in the fourth round, but the judges had given him every round on the scorecards up ‘til then. I definitely lost the first round but I battered him in the second and third, but the judges were obviously going to give him every round, and it wasn’t for a title so it was only an eight round contest. He was a southpaw and he could punch, and he knew what he was doing in that ring. Basically it was my pressure that I managed to beat him with.” 

You have just been crowned WBC International Silver super middleweight champion with a clear points victory over Philip Koty in Blackburn last month with all three judges scoring the fight at 100-91. What will this title open up for you? “It’s opened the door for me to America to fight the likes of Dirrell. I’ve just got to work my way up now in the WBC rankings. There’s basically me and Frank Buglioni floating around in the top 10 on the domestic level while the others are all going up to world level.”

When is your next fight and who will you be facing? “I’m boxing November 22nd and I think it will be a defence of the WBC title, I’ll know by the end of the week. To be honest, all the big fights I’ve taken have been abroad and even when I win they’re not on TV in the UK. I could have gone over to America and beat Dirrell and no one back here would have seen it. Every fight that I have is entertaining and I’m still learning in the gym.”

2015 promises to be a big year for you, what are your plans for these next 12 months? “Definitely. I want to fight in November then in the New Year I want to get a big fight on the TV on a Frank Warren or Eddie Hearn show. Frank Buglioni would be a good fight for the fans. Both of us are in the top 10, and it’s a fight that a lot of people would want to watch.”

The super middleweight division in the UK is packed with talent right now, Carl Froch sits at the top with George Groves, James DeGale, Paul Smith Jr, Frank Buglioni all just above you in the top 10. Which of those names above you would most excite you as an opponent? “Frank Buglioni. I’m not one for calling people out but I know it will be such a big fight. For me, it’s Frank or maybe Tobias Webb but I’m now looking for big names for TV fights.” Y

ou’ve already had 21 fights and you’re still only 24-years-old. Within that time you have achieved three titles at two different weights and challenged for the Commonwealth at super middleweight and WBO and WBC Youth world titles at light heavyweight. What titles are you aiming to achieve before you call a day on your career and when do you envisage that day coming? “Someone asked me a similar question a while ago and I said I wanted the English and British by 25. Obviously, before I retire I want to have fought for a world title – that’s my dream. I love training and I love boxing so if I couldn’t do that then I would be lost. I’ve got another 10 years in boxing. I’ve got a good nutritionist and I do things right. The most I’ve blown up to is around 10lbs over and that’s why I’ve been able to take fights at short notice. You have to enjoy yourself after a fight but I still keep myself in shape.”

Thanks for your time, Luke. Any last message for anyone? “I’d like everyone to get behind me on November 22nd and I’ve got a big fan base behind me now so I promise you that I’ll get a on a big TV show soon so that everyone can watch me. I’d also like to thank my manager, Steve Woods for everything that he has done for me.”

To follow Luke Blackledge on Twitter click here https://twitter.com/LukeBlackledge

Luke would like to thank his sponsor, AJ Wood and PR Manager, Tim Rickson