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British Boxing Update: Bellew-Makabu Tickets, Smith, Blackledge

Fast rising Accrington action man Luke Blackledge intends muscling his way to prominence in Britain’s white hot super-middleweight division.

Ahead of the second defence of his Commonwealth title at Bolton this Friday, the 25 year old no nonsense northerner told Glynn Evans that he yearns for the blood of an Englishman!

You produced a quality display last time to tame rugged Grays hard case Lee Markham over 12 at the Manchester Arena. How did you assess your performance?

Pretty decent. I was actually ill in the run up and my team wanted to pull me out. Lee’s awkward for anybody, hard to look good against. He stays on your chest and smothers. But our game plan worked perfectly, and I thought I looked good in bits. It was a hard fight – as was the one for the title with Liam Cameron – but I was only caught with one or two shots.

luke-blackledge_1

You’ve been dormant for seven months since. What have you been up to?

Don’t worry, I’ve been plenty busy. I sparred (ex WBO champ) Arthur Abraham in Germany for a month over Christmas and that went really well, he was easy to get on with. To be honest it were pretty even and at times I outworked him. He can be lazy. Then five weeks ago I went to Spain - through the Sauerlands - to spar Tyron Zeuge and another unbeaten German kid. I was over there on my own which was a fresh experience. The sparring went really well.

You’ve now beaten Phill Fury, former British champ Matthew Barney, ex European king Mads Larsen, plus Philip Kotey, Liam Cameron and Lee Markham. You’ve also prepared for five 10 rounders and three 12 round title fights. Do you feel you’ve served your time now?

Definitely. I’ve had a real good base to kick on to bigger titles. As you point out, I’ve had a lot of tough fights already. Matthew Barney was a real awkward bastard who I beat at a week’s notice and you can throw in my debatable loss to the (then 15-0) Swede Erik Skoglund in Denmark plus my first Commonwealth challenge to Rocky Fielding (lrsc1) to the names you mention. But it’s all been good experience which is what I want.                   

The 168lb division you inhabit is one of the most densely talented in Britain. How do you assess your key rivals? Who would you most like to meet?

Yeh, it’s mint.

(British and European champion) Callum Smith has very good timing, particularly to the body but (triple world title challenger George) Groves is definitely the biggest puncher. He’s got a great jab and heavy, heavy, heavy hands!

However, I’d say (IBF king James) DeGale is the best all round, a very slick southpaw with bags of confidence. He’s the one I’d love to face.  I honestly believe I could cause him a lot of problems with a good game plan and my high work rate. He’s very talented but a bit lazy. I’d love that opportunity but understand that I need to EARN it.

A showdown with unbeaten world rated WBO European king Jamie Cox would be easy to make, given he’s also on the QP roster. Would that interest you?

To be honest, I’d view that as a backward step. I want fights that’ll move me forwards. It’s the same with Vijender Singh. Both are very dangerous. But whereas Callum Smith is destroying top kids, Cox just knocks numpties out. They need to bring summat I want otherwise there would need to be very good money involved.

So what are your plans for 2016?

After this fight, the British title is ideally what I’ll go for. I’d love to get that Lonsdale Belt. I don’t mind fighting a final eliminator to merit my shot. Perhaps I could have a return against either Cameron or Markham. I’m not looking for a return with Rocky because we work from the same camp but if it made business sense of course it can happen.

Having shutout Philip Kotey over ten in 2014, you’re faced with another Ghanaian on Friday, when you square off with 45 fight veteran Ishmael Tetteh, aka ‘Black Roy Jones Jr’!

The fight was confirmed at short notice. What have you been able to find out about him?

I’ve seen very little other than his fight with Martin Murray when he retired on his stool after six rounds. But I’ve sparred 20 rounds with Martin myself for this fight and he told me Tetteh is very tough and durable. Martin’s given me a few pointers. We’ve got a really good game plan and I fully expect to smash Tetteh’s head in on Friday night to force a big domestic fight. What I really want is 50-50 fights against the top British names. I was very disappointed when David Brophy pulled out to fight George Groves instead.

You enter as a prohibitive favourite with the bookies. What would represent a good night for Luke Blackledge on Friday?

The win is the most important thing obviously but I know I also need to look good if I’m to force the big domestic fights I crave. I live in Bolton now and I’ve probably knocked out about 200 tickets but it’d be far more for a big name domestic opponent. Hopefully on Friday you’ll see the new stuff – the skills, footwork, head movement, general control – that I’ve been learning in the gym over the last seven months. You’ll see a big improvement, trust me.

Stephen Smith will face Daniel Brizuela for the WBC Silver Super-Featherweight title at Goodison Park in Liverpool on Sunday May 29, live on Sky Sports.

Smith gets straight back into action following his fine performance in Connecticut in April where he challenged classy Puerto Rican Jose Pedraza for the IBF World title, and ‘Swifty’ now sets his sights on WBC king Francisco Vargas – but must get past a familiar face in Brizuela on his first step on that path.

Brizuela thrilled fans in Hull in February 2014 when he clashed with Tommy Coyle in a fight of the year contender for the IBF International Lightweight strap, with both men hitting the canvas four times, with three knockdowns in the 11th session that was awarded ‘round of the year’ by ESPN. The Argentine returned to Hull to meet Coyle’s city rival Luke Campbell MBE eight months later, and has since moved down to campaign back at 130lbs.

“It’s a massive bill and I'm thrilled to be a part of it,” said Smith. “I'm coming in on the back of the Pedraza loss but I don't feel like my confidence has been dented, I think I've done 12 good rounds at the highest level with a top World champion and I showed that I belonged there. Hopefully getting back out at Everton and landing the WBC Silver belt will get me a high ranking with the WBC and I can look at landing a shot at the famous green belt as soon as possible.

“I had seven months out from winning the final eliminator through date changes for the Pedraza fight and I don't need that to happen again. I've had a taste of the top level and I want more of it so it's time to build up more momentum and land that World title.”

Smith’s clash with Brizuela is part of a huge night of action at Goodison Park as diehard Evertonian Tony Bellew faces Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC World Cruiserweight title.

Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd faces Pasquale di Silvio for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Lightweight title, Hosea Burton defends his British Light-Heavyweight title against Liverpool man Tony Dodson, Tom Farrell and Kofi Yates clash in an eliminator for the British Super-Lightweight title.

Merseyside Heavyweight favourite David Price is back in action and there’s a host of local talents getting a huge opportunity to impress in JJ Metcalfe, Ged Carroll, Steve Brogan, Craig Glover and Scott Fitzgerald.

Tickets are on general sale now priced £40, £60, £100 and £200 and can be purchased by visiting www.evertonfc.com/eticketing, or by calling 0151 556 1878*. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased in person by visiting the Park End ticket office or our City Centre ticket facility in Everton Two, Liverpool One. £350 VIP tickets will be available exclusively from www.matchroomboxing.com

Opening times for all ticket outlets can be found here.

*Booking fees apply.

Tickets for May 29 are also available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ - StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua MBE.

Two more stands are open for tickets at Goodison Park as fans flock to see Tony Bellew take on Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC World Cruiserweight title at the home of Everton FC on Sunday May 29, live on Sky Sports.

With tickets passing the 12,000 mark at the iconic home of the Toffees, tickets are now on sale in both the Bullens Road and Goodison Road stands.

Tickets in those stands are priced at £40, and promoter Eddie Hearn is urging fight fans to snap them up and get behind the ‘Bomber’ in his quest to land a first World title.

“The support for this show has been fantastic,” said Hearn. “Bank Holiday Sunday May 29 at Goodison Park is going to be a night to remember – huge thanks to everyone for getting behind this event.”
Bellew’s World title bout with Makabu is part of a huge night of action on Merseyside as Stephen Smith gets the chance to bounce back from his IBF World title challenge in Connecticut as he fights for the vacant WBC Silver title.

Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd faces Pasquale di Silvio for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Lightweight title, Hosea Burton defends his British Light-Heavyweight title against Liverpool man Tony Dodson, Tom Farrell and Kofi Yates clash in an eliminator for the British Super-Lightweight title

Merseyside Heavyweight favourite David Price is back in action and there’s a host of local talents getting a huge opportunity to impress in JJ Metcalfe, Ged Carroll, Steve Brogan, Craig Glover and Scott Fitzgerald.

Tickets are on general sale now priced £40, £60, £100 and £200 and can be purchased by visiting www.evertonfc.com/eticketing, or by calling 0151 556 1878*. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased in person by visiting the Park End ticket office or our City Centre ticket facility in Everton Two, Liverpool One. £350 VIP tickets will be available exclusively from www.matchroomboxing.com

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