Nick Blackwell ready to shock Billy-Joe Saunders in middleweight title bout
Nick Blackwell has been tipped to cause an upset when he challenges Billy-Joe Saunders for the Commonwealth middleweight crown at the ExCel Arena on Saturday.
The 22-year-old is up against a red-hot favourite in Saunders, who is making his second defence of the title after a career-best stoppage of the previously unbeaten Jarrod Fletcher in September.
Blackwell, who works on his strength and conditioning at Bath’s Body Development Gym, has one defeat on his 13-fight record and is a former English middleweight champion.
The vacant British belt will also be on the line during promoter Frank Warren’s Three Kings show.
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“Nick will surprise people,” said manager PJ Rowson of the Trowbridge fighter. “He’s better than people think. He’s young, ambitious and ready.”
Blackwell took a massive step up to box St Helens powerhouse Martin Murray, then rated fifth by the WBA, for the Commonwealth and vacant British belts in June 2011.
But he was pulled out by his corner after five rounds after complaining that he could not breathe – and Rowson believes that experience will help the man nicknamed ‘Bang Bang’ to shock Saunders this weekend.
Blackwell has pulled off four inside-the-distance wins since his loss to Murray – including a career-best stoppage of Martin Concepcion – and Rowson said: “The Murray fight came too soon.
“But Nick learned more from that one loss than he would have learned by winning ten fights.
“He knows what it takes to compete at that level now and he will be much better prepared this time.
“Nick is a different fighter now – he’s bigger, stronger, knows more and will show what he’s made of in this fight.”
Blackwell should be well prepared for next week’s title challenge having had top-class southpaw sparring with Brian Magee, Kerry Hope, Tony Hill and King Davidson and says he will crank up the pressure on Saunders.
He describes the 2008 Olympian as “a busy southpaw” and added: “He’s not used to people throwing shots back at him, so we will see how he deals with being under pressure. I’m fit and ready.”