Nick Blackwell is confident that it will be third time lucky when he fights for the vacant British middleweight title on May 30 in London.
As part of a bumper show from Matchroom Sports, Blackwell will go up against John Ryder, who lost his only British title shot against Billy Joe Saunders in 2013, at the O2 Arena on a night where two, possibly three world titles will be on the line.
Blackwell’s belief that he will be victorious stems from working with Gary Lockett, an association that is still in its infancy.
“I started training with Gary 3-4 weeks ago,” the 24-year-old told WBN.
“I’d been going there quite a while to do some sparring with Liam Williams and Alex Hughes. It’s hard to get sparring round where I am.
“He was telling me things in sparring and pointing little things out which are making a massive difference to my boxing skills. I’m a totally different fighter now. I’ve picked up a lot of things in a short space of time. I’m actually using my boxing skills now, I’m not just putting my hands up high and throwing haymakers. I’ve actually got something else in my toolbox now.”
Blackwell who has fought Brit slayer Sergey Khomitsky as well as Max Bursak, in the Ukranian’s backyard, in two of his last five fights admits he is going to have to be the best he’s ever been to beat Ryder and says ‘The Gorilla’ will present more of a technical challenge than they did.
“Technically wise it’s a step up,” said Blackwell.
“Ryder isn’t going to be as strong as Khomitsky, I know that, but he’s technically a lot better than them two. I’m going to have to be switched on, it’s going to be one of my hardest fights. It’s my third time fighting for the British title but I’m not walking away without that British title.”
Blackwell was still four months shy of his 21st birthday when he faced off against Martin Murray for the Lonsdale belt in what was just his ninth professional contest in June 2011. Despite having to retire in the fifth round, a more mature Blackwell says enough has been learned from that night and others to stand him in good stead against Ryder
He said: “I was in with a much more experienced opponent in Martin Murray but I learned a lot from that fight. I don’t have an amateur background, I went the unlicensed route. I hadn’t had all the experience and the limelight like all the other lads had, that was my apprenticeship. Fights I’ve lost I’ve learnt from. Now I’m going to get my name up there. I’ve learned from my mistakes in the past and it’s time to get things right. This is the perfect time to fight John Ryder for the British title.”
Days before today’s purse bid for Ryder v Blackwell was won by Ryder’s promoter Eddie Hearn, the latter had been rumoured to be in the frame as an opponent for Chris Eubank Jr. on May 9 at Wembley Arena, despite the WBA interim middleweight belt holder already having an opponent lined up in Les Sherrington.
“That fight got put to me at the weekend.” Blackwell revealed.
“I wanted it, it’s a big name and he’s obviously got that belt which means a world ranking. Frank Warren wanted another big fight on the [May 9] card but the Eubanks didn’t want it so it wasn’t going to happen anyway.
“I think whenever a fight with Eubank gets mentioned you don’t know if he’s going to pull out or not. There’s always things with him, like at the press conferences, and you’re never certain the fight is going to happen. I want to be in a fight where someone wants to fight and put a show on and John Ryder is one of them, he’s true to his word. I’ve got no problem with John.”
The British middleweight scene is in a healthy state right now. Blackwell, Ryder, Saunders, Eubank Jr as well as Macklin and Murray are not separated by the millions of miles they once were. Adam Etches was himself part of a Brit-pack looking to make a name for himself until Sergey Khomitsky got in the way. Blackwell had some strong yet supportive words for the Sheffield fighter after his shattering fourth round KO defeat last month.
“I think the problem was that Adam Etches believed his own hype and all the hype that was getting built around him. He was fighting these people with fake records and he was beating nothing. He was having it his own way and then he fought someone who was there willing to throw shots back and took everything that he had.
“He thought he was invincible going in there and he just walked straight into Khomitsky. But he’ll come back stronger because he knows he’s not invincible. I went through the same thing before I fought Martin Murray, I thought I was invincible. I came out twice the fighter and so will he.”