Luke Blackledge is relishing the chance to fight in front of a home crowd on Saturday night after being thrust to the top of the bill.
The 24-year-old from Accrington was among several local fighters pencilled in for the ‘Motown Showdown’ at King George’s Hall, the first professional boxing show to be held in Blackburn since the 1960s.
After bouncing back from his defeat by Rocky Fielding in December to win his last two fights, the super middleweight was hoping to arrange an English title fight.
But Blackledge has now been handed a clash with Philip Kotey for the vacant WBC International silver super middleweight title.
That bout is now the main attraction in front of what is expected to be a full house of 1,600.
“I’m buzzing to be top of the bill, fighting for a WBC title in what’s practically my hometown,” he said.
“All my supporters will be there. It’s a big show and I can’t wait.
“We couldn’t find an opponent in the UK who was willing to fight me for the English title so we put my name forward to the WBC.
“They saw my ranking (currently 11th in the UK) and that I’ve put in two good performances in my last two fights, and they accepted me.
“It’s a massive opportunity. If I win it gets me on the WBC rankings and then I can try to work my way up them.”
Kotey has 29 wins, seven losses and two draws compared to Blackledge’s record of 16-2-2 so the Accrington fighter admits it is a far tougher challenge than he thought he’d be facing in Blackburn.
Kotey was beaten by new world champion Kell Brook on his last fight in the UK in December 2010 but the 32-year-old Ghanaian has won eight of his nine fights since so Blackledge accepts he is ‘probably the underdog’.
“He’s had more knock-outs (22) than I’ve had fights,” he said.
“He’s got a lot of experience and is obviously a big puncher so I’ve got to be swicthed on. He’s also a switch-hitter, he goes between southpaw and orthodox, but I’ve been working on a gameplan to cope with that.
“We’re both coming into the fight on the back of knock-outs so it’ll be a tough fight but I’m confident I can win it.”
Blackledge has not been the best trainer in the past but he insists he’s turned over a new leaf.
Such is his commitment to getting back on track following that Fielding defeat that he’s recently moved to Darwen to be closer to his gym in Bolton, Elite Boxing, which is run by former pro Alex Matvienko.
“I’ve not had a day off since my last fight (in July),” he said.
“Alex has done some great work with my technique and I’ve got a great strength and conditioning coach, and a nutritionist.
“I’m more dedicated than ever.”
Accrington’s Artif Ali and Oswaldtwistle heavyweight Adam Machaj are also on the bill, with Ali aiming to make up for lost time.
The unbeaten featherweight turned pro in January 2013 but, for various reasons, this is only his fifth pro fight.
“I’m 26 now so I need to fast track, I need to stay busy,” he said. “It’s my first six-rounder so it’s another step up but I’ll be ready.”
Tickets may be available on the door or call 01942 874241.