The promising 22-year-old has looked faultless so far in his professional career – winning 13 bouts on the spin – but has yet to go past six rounds and has yet to meet a competitor quite like Blackwell. Not that it matters in Jones’ mind, of course.
“I think this opportunity has come at exactly the right time,” he said. “I’ve been a professional since I was 18 and I feel the apprenticeship is over. I’m now ready for the step up.
“There’s no pressure at all on me, and this helps with training. It brings the best out of me.
“Nick is the favourite and I’m the underdog, but he’s used to going into fights as the underdog and then upsetting the odds. He’s used to going into fights with no stress or pressure on him. It will be interesting to see how he deals with being the champion and headlining an event.
“All I know is it will be good to be 22 and the British middleweight champion.”
Despite his relative lack of pro experience, Jones boasts an amateur career consisting of 79 fights (only seven of which were losses) and won a Senior ABA title at the tender age of 17. He was also a nine-time national champion, a Youth Commonwealth Games gold medallist, a three-time Junior ABA champion and a three-time CYP champion. Suffice to say, he has much in the way of fighting pedigree.
“I had an incredible amateur career and when I turned pro my first ambition was to win the British title,” said the Leeds man. “I think that’s every boxer’s dream.
“Some good amateurs go on to have crap pro careers, but I’m not going to go that way. I’m 22 now and ready to show people I’m a fully-fledged pro capable of winning titles.
“I’m young, I’m hungry, I’m undefeated and I want to box the best people now. Boxing on these little shows against fighters with no ambition is not bringing out the best in me. I’m not having to raise my game.
“But I know when I step up in class on July 25, my game will go to a whole new level. People are going to see a completely different Damon Jones that night. They’ll be really surprised.”
As for Blackwell, the reigning champion, Jones sees a man with obvious dangers, but one he can get the better of when they collide on July 25.
“I watched Nick win the title against John Ryder last month and thought he put on a good performance,” said Jones. “But Ryder was committing too much in the early rounds. He was on Nick’s chest and he didn’t need to be there.
“He got caught with a good shot and fair play to Nick – he did the job. He grabbed the opportunity when it came. I had Ryder winning most of the rounds, but, as is always the case with boxing, one punch changed it all.
“There were plenty of chinks in Blackwell’s armour that night, though – stuff I can look at and work on. It was good that he was facing a southpaw because it gave me the opportunity to see how Blackwell operates against one, even though I’m a completely different fighter to Ryder and we have completely different styles.
“Blackwell’s a good come-forward fighter, he’s strong and I’ve got to be careful. I can’t get caught with silly shots. I’ve got to be clever against him. As we saw against Ryder, he’s a strong kid and, if he sees the opportunity, he will take it. I’ve got to be switched on throughout.
“I’m going to be sharp, show plenty of angles and use good footwork. I think if I can put all of that together, it will cause Blackwell big problems. I’m also a tall guy – just over six-foot – and I’ll use my height and reach advantages to control him. I’ve got a lot of advantages going into this fight.”
*** Tickets for Blackwell vs. Jones can be purchased from the Derby Arena Box Office on 01332 255800 or by visiting www.derbylive.co.uk ***
*** Blackwell vs. Jones will be televised live on Channel 5 on July 25, while the supporting undercard will be televised live earlier in the evening on Spike ***