Trowbridge warrior Nick Blackwell won the British middleweight title in stunning fashion on Saturday night (May 30) when stopping Londoner John Ryder inside seven swashbuckling rounds at a sold-out O2 Arena.
The win landed Blackwell the coveted Lonsdale belt at the third time of asking and instantly catapulted his name up the world rankings. It also went some way to highlighting the importance of perseverance.
“I remember thinking in the first few rounds that I needed to get my arse in gear and turn it around,” said Blackwell, who lost the opening three rounds to Ryder before clawing back the deficit.
“Gary (Lockett, trainer) was telling me to do stuff and I just couldn’t do it. I was too tense and stiff. I needed to relax, I needed to let my shots flow. After this happened, in the fourth round, I saw signs of Ryder breaking.
“In fact, I was talking to Ryder throughout the whole fight. A lot of people said he was quite mentally weak, so I tried tapping into that. When he picked up a cut, I kept telling him how bad his cut was. When we got into the middle rounds, I kept reminding him that I was just warming up. I could tell it was all playing on his mind and that he was getting weaker and weaker. I think I just mentally destroyed him.
“I then caught him with a right hand that wobbled him, followed by an uppercut and a left hook and he wasn’t in any position to guard himself. Some people said it was a bit of an early stoppage, but I disagree. I tried talking to Ryder after the fight and he was all over the place. He then sat down and spoke to his trainer, Tony Sims, and he said to him, ‘What just happened?’ Ryder didn’t know where he was.”
Despite halting Ryder with a flurry of heavy and hurtful punches, and effectively turning the fight on its head, Blackwell is philosophical about the overall performance. He knows he could have done even better.
“I was annoyed because I know I didn’t perform anywhere near the level I’m capable of,” he said. “But I look at it this way: a bad Nick Blackwell beat a good John Ryder on the night.
“I’ve got loads more to learn and I’ve got loads more to show. I’ve only been with Gary Lockett for two months now and the stuff I’ve learned in that short space of time has already taken me to a different level. I look forward to seeing how much better I can get.
“I hope a lot of other middleweights look at that fight on Saturday and think to themselves, I can beat this Nick Blackwell kid – he doesn’t bring much to the table. Then maybe they’ll stop avoiding me.”
Often avoided, and something of a dark horse in the division, Blackwell now has a title to his name and the backing of promoter Mick Hennessy and Channel 5. And this newfound power, he hopes, will lead him to even bigger and better things in the future.
“I knew it was going to feel good winning the British title, but I didn’t realise quite how good it was going to feel,” he said. “I’m not an emotional person whatsoever and anyone who knows me will say I have never shown emotion at any point in my life. But I started crying on Saturday night and I couldn’t believe it. Suddenly all the ups and downs, all the hard times, came into focus and I just let it all out. It was the best feeling in the world.”