In fact, it was only when I signed with my promoter, Mick Hennessy, that my career picked up and I had two fights in a couple of weeks. That was a real eye-opener for me. Suddenly I was active and not just someone who got a call last-minute to be an opponent.
They were two very tough fights as well. I fought Sergey Khomitsky in Monte Carlo and believed that with an extra round I would have stopped him, and then I fought Nathan King who was practically a light-heavyweight. I wanted to impress people in both of those fights. I was looking to make a statement. Maybe I tried too hard at times and put a bit too much pressure on myself.
A few months after I got a draw with Khomitsky, he got the call to face Adam Etches, another British middleweight. The result? Well, I knew it was coming. To be totally honest, I was even planning on putting on a double – Khomitsky to knockout Etches and Kell Brook to get his opponent (Jo Jo Dan) out of there before six. I was gutted I didn’t get round to doing it.
I knew how strong Khomitsky was. You can feel it in there with him. If Etches had fought with his brain a bit, and stayed away from him for four or five rounds, let him tire out, he could have then had a chance to take over and maybe even put him away late on. But he didn’t do that.
He’s got a fake record, he’s fought a lot of weak opponents, and everybody was telling him how powerful he was. He genuinely thought he’d go out there, walk through Khomitsky and knock him out. But nobody has done that to Khomitsky before. Reality hit Etches in the form of Khomitsky’s right hand.
It’s no good having an undefeated record if you’re not learning anything along the way. All that will happen is you’ll end up fighting someone like Khomitsky – your first real test – and end up getting your arse whooped. We’ll see how Etches comes back. I hope he can come back stronger.
I’ve only met Etches once and he seemed a decent kid. But his manager, Richard Poxon, bad-mouthed me in an interview and said why should an unbeaten fighter like Etches give someone like me a payday. I thought that was really disrespectful. Etches hadn’t fought anyone. Then he fought Khomitsky, who I was very close to stopping before our fight ended, and was knocked out. If Etches had knocked out Khomitsky in a few rounds, then I’d eat some humble pie. People would say, ‘Oh, that just goes to show how good Nick Blackwell really is.’ But that didn’t happen. I stood toe-to-toe with Khomitsky for six rounds and nearly stopped him and Etches got knocked out in four.
Another fight that interested me this year was the world middleweight title fight between Gennady Golovkin and Martin Murray. I was hoping to go out to Monte Carlo for it but training got in the way and I had to stay and watch it from home.
Still, Murray put on a really good performance, I thought. I knew he’d go rounds with Golovkin because he’s a tough lad and can take a shot. Usually, once Golovkin lands, they go over or re-think their game plan, but Murray stuck with it and landed some good shots of his own. He just took a bit too much punishment in the end. Fair play to Martin Murray, though. He showed he belonged at that level.
If the Golovkin fight ever came up in my career, I’d happily take it. I’d be 100% confident I’d go in there and win. You have to think that way. If you don’t, he’s already beaten you. Too many fighters doubt themselves before they even step into the ring with him. It’s crazy.
Then again, he’s taking over the middleweight division now and I don’t see anybody beating him anytime soon. He’s a bit of a monster, really.
John Ryder is where it all starts for me, though. I want to get this British title and take it from there. I’ve got a lot riding on this fight. I’ve already lost two British title shots and I can’t afford to lose a third.
I know I’ve got to beat him up badly as well because it’s on an Eddie Hearn/Matchroom show and I won’t get any favours from the judges. I’ll have to either knock him out or beat him up badly for every single round. That’s what I plan to do. Let’s see what he’s got…
*** Hennessy Sports’ Nick Blackwell fights John Ryder for the vacant British middleweight title on May 30 at the O2 Arena, LIVE on Sky Sports Box Office ***