Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS TIMES to 80360 or email us
BOXING: ExCel-lent chance
NICK Blackwell will relish his underdog tag as he gears up for his second shot at the British and Commonwealth middleweight titles.
‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell, who turns 22 later this month, is set to take on unbeaten former Olympian and current Commonwealth belt holder Billy Joe Saunders, 23, for the vacant British belt at London’s ExCel Arena on December 15.
The Trowbridge boxer, who claimed the WBC Youth Silver middleweight title on his last outing in May, unsuccessfully challenged Martin Murray in June 2011, retiring in the fifth round.
But he has warned that he should not be written off ahead of his meeting with Hertfordshire star Saunders, believing he has a much more realistic chance of claiming the coveted belt than last time.
“A lot of people don’t know too much about me in the boxing scene because there’s not a lot of footage of me around and people think that Billy Joe Saunders has got an easy shot at the British title – he hasn’t,” said Blackwell.
“I’m definitely the underdog because he’s been at the Olympics in Beijing (2008) and he’s got the Commonwealth belt but I don’t mind that.
“When I fought Martin Murray, everything wasn’t right and I had a problem with my rib but the time feels right now and I’m over the moon to have another shot at the title.”
Blackwell, who has won 12 of his 13 pro bouts so far, is hoping that he has gained an extra edge from his recent sparring sessions with IBF super-middleweight champion Carl Froch, as well as middleweight prospect Chris Eubank Jnr.
Blackwell said: “It was a bit nerve-wracking the first time I sparred with Carl Froch but you forget about all that once you get in the ring.
“It was good to spar with Eubank too, who’s an up and coming fighter like me, and learning things from a world-class boxer like Froch is great.”
Blackwell will take on Saunders on a Frank Warren-promoted bill also featuring WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns, Swindon’s Commonwealth light-middleweight champion Jamie Cox and reigning British and Commonwealth super middleweight title holder George Groves.
The Trowbridge man is also hoping for a healthy Wiltshire following when he takes to the ring in London.
Blackwell’s promoter, PJ Rowson, is relishing his fighter’s clash with Saunders.
He said: “It’s the golden boy former Olympic star against a guy who’s got himself to where he is the hard way, with no amateur career.
“They’re the third best middleweights in the country bar none.
“It’s a fascinating clash that I’d pay money to see myself if I wasn’t involved.
“I hope that Nick gets a good following behind him – not just from Wiltshire but maybe even from the whole of the West Country.”
Saunders stopped Australian Jarrod Fletcher in the second round last month to take his flawless record to 15-0.
He said: “I can’t wait to put on another power-packed performance at the ExCel and retain my Commonwealth title. I’m in great form at the moment and I’m confident I could beat any of my rivals in the domestic division.’’