BOXING: 'Bang Bang' targets IBO crown

Contender Gym trainer Mark Kent (left) with fighters (l-r) Gareth Heard Nick Blackwell and Luke Martin at Bath's Forum for today's announcement (Photo: Trevor Porter)

Contender Gym trainer Mark Kent (left) with fighters (l-r) Gareth Heard Nick Blackwell and Luke Martin at Bath's Forum for today's announcement (Photo: Trevor Porter)

First published in Sport by

TROWBRIDGE middleweight Nick Blackwell will fight for the IBO Inter-Continental title in Bath next month, it was announced today.

The two-time British title challenger will face off against an opponent, who is expected to be confirmed later this week, on Saturday, April 5 at the city’s Forum venue.

‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell, the former English champion, controversially lost out to European champion Max Bursak in the Ukraine in September while challenging for the WBA Continental crown.

But the former WBC youth silver champion remains one of the top British prospects in the division, a fact underlined by him also being made mandatory challenger for the British title held by Billy Joe Saunders, who narrowly defeated Blackwell in December 2012.

His Contender Gym trainer Mark Kent said: “Last week we had the word that Nick was ranked high enough to challenge for an Inter-Continental.

“We’ve taken it because we want to take him forward. In the meantime, Nick has been made mandatory (challenger) for the British and Commonwealth (titles) against Billy Joe Saunders again.

“Whether that will come off in the future is another thing. Nick is mandatory challenger so they can’t get away from that, so they’ll have to come back with a very good deal for us, or Billy Joe will have to fight Nick again, which I don’t think he wants to do.

“It would be a nice fight to have but Nick has stepped in and taken hard fights when he hasn’t had to, so he’ll take a look at what comes in.’’

Blackwell’s is one of four major fights on the Bath bill which will also see Bristol’s Danny Butler making a second defence of the English middleweight belt formerly held by Blackwell, against Martin Concepcion, who Blackwell has previously beaten.

Malmesbury’s Joe Hughes, a stablemate of Butler’s with trainer/manager Andy O’Kane, will also contest the International Masters light welterweight crown – his first title fight - against Michael Mooney, of Birmingham.

Norton St Philip’s Mike Rose will also be in title action in an International bronze masters title in the light-middleweight division.

The bill is a collaboration between the Contender Gym in Trowbridge and Paddy Johns Gym in Bristol and O’Kane said: “This is the first collaboration between the gyms which isn’t a common thing in professional boxing because as you can imagine it’s quite a competitive market.

“We want to co-operate in a way that projects the boxers in the best possible way and gets the West Country recognised again. The feedback we had from the Board of Control was that they were thrilled about it.

Kent added: “Nick fought here (Bath) when he won the English title at the University.

"This place (the Forum) came up and we came and had a look and though it looked perfect. It seemed to have sparked up a great amount of interest which is good.

“The main aim is to get these guys out and about fighting in the area more often.

"The South West is starting to come together quite strongly with professional boxing now and it’s about time something was put in place more so the lads were seen a lot more.’’

Bradford on Avon welterweight Gareth Heard and Melksham’s Luke Martin are also set to feature in Bath.

For ticket details see http://bathforum.ticketline.co.uk or call 01225 765712.

MORE ON THIS STORY IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES

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