NICK Blackwell believes he is starting to earn the respect of the wider boxing fraternity, even if it is mainly courtesy of his career defeats.

The Trowbridge middleweight, who is 23, takes the next step in his ring career when he faces an as-yet unnamed opponent for an inter-continental belt at Bath’s Forum on April 5.

‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell, has been installed as the mandatory challenger for the British title – a belt he has fought for twice before – currently held by Billy Joe Saunders, to whom he narrowly lost in December 2012.

Getting the right fight for the Wiltshire man has proved a tough task for his team in recent months, a reflection of the threat Blackwell poses to others in his division.

Despite three defeats on his career statistics, Blackwell has actually emerged in credit from those losses, the most recent of which saw him controversially lose out to European champion Max Bursak in the Ukraine last September while challenging for the WBA Continental crown.

“To start with, a lot of people were criticising me for taking the Martin Murray fight (his first shot at the British title in June 2011), saying I wasn’t ready. But I took that fight and learned a lot from it,’’ he told the Wiltshire Times.

“As soon as I fought Billy Joe Saunders, people started talking positively about me and then I fought in the Ukraine and should have won.

“Now they’re talking about how they think I can go far. It’s nice that people are bigging me up a bit.’’

Despite not yet knowing the identity of his next opponent, the Contender Gym (Trowbridge) fighter is keen to get back to work.

“I wish I was a little bit busier. I’d fight every month if I had the chance to. Keeping busy means you are improving every time, but it is what it is.

“I’m trying to find people who want to fight me. The only thing they’d get out of me is the chance to beat Nick Blackwell. There’s no big title there.

“But I’m in the mandatory spot so I have to fight Billy Joe Saunders, which is a rematch I want.

“The middleweight division is really strong at the minute so to win the British title outright, you have done pretty well.’’