Morden’s ‘Lightning’ Lenny Daws knows the importance of keeping his eye on the prize as he prepares for an eight-rounder in Derby on July 25 ahead of a European light-welterweight title challenge later this year.
The 36-year-old former two-time British champion must win later this month in order to set up a second stab at snatching European honours from reigning champion and former opponent Michele Di Rocco, should the Italian decide to keep his current title.
“We’re hoping the European title fight will be next for me,” Daws said. “We’re waiting to see what Di Rocco plans to do – whether he decides to fight me or vacate the belt – and then we can start preparing for it.
“He’s sitting at number four with the IBF now, and if he fights me and loses, it will all go up in smoke for him. That’s a risk. He could get some sort of world title eliminator next, or he could even get a straight shot at the IBF world title. I don’t know what his promoter’s pushing for, but the longer he waits around with his European title, the more chance there is that it all goes wrong for him.
“The main thing for me is to keep busy, get some rounds under my belt, use this eight-rounder on July 25 as a warm-up and be ready for the opportunity when it comes. We know I’m next in line now, so whether it’s Di Rocco or someone else, I’m going to be fighting for the European title very soon.”
The opponent is of no concern for Daws. Should Di Rocco hold on to the title and defend it, Daws will be offered the opportunity to avenge a controversial points decision he dropped to the Italian in June 2013. If, however, Di Rocco dumps the belt and pursues world honours, Daws is more than happy to pick up the vacant prize.
“I’d just love to fight for the European title again,” he said. “If it’s Di Rocco in the other corner, by all means I’d love the fight. It would be great to fight him again, put the record straight and nick his world ranking. But I don’t fancy going back to Italy to fight him – I know we’d be up against it again out there. Over here would be great, though.
“I can’t see him wanting to fight me again. It was such a hard fight for him first time round and I truly believe he’ll try and swerve it. Aside from one mandatory challenger, they’ve hand-picked every opponent he’s faced since me and he’s being kept in Italy and is well looked after. If you can get it that way, you get it that way. I’m not knocking him for it. But I don’t believe he’ll be keen to fight me again and it’s probably now time for him to move on and let the title go.”
Ultimately, for now at least, Daws has to forget all about his European title aspirations and focus instead on the here and now. After all, without victory on July 25 at Derby Arena, there is no European title and there is no future.
“I’ve been training hard and I’m looking forward to getting out again,” he said. “It’s been a while and I’m raring to go. It’s been a long old camp, but I’ve had the odd week off here and there – just so I’m not overcooking it – and I’ll be in good shape come July 25.
“Derby’s a bit far for us, but it looks a lovely arena and I’m just itching to get out there and perform now.”
*** 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 ***