NICK Blackwell reckons that his recent sparring sessions with some of the country’s top fighters have helped open doors as he plots the next move in his career.

The 23-year-old Trowbridge man, who was last in action in April when he comfortably disposed of Terry Carruthers in Bath, is striving to take some significant steps forward but is yet to secure his next fight date.

But a recent trip to Matthew Macklin’s MGM Gym in Marbella late last month, where ‘Bang Bang’ sparred with the former WBA and IBO world title challenger, paid dividends.

Blackwell impressed enough that his spell in Spain was extended to three weeks, also leading to a host of sparring sessions with former European super-middleweight champion James DeGale.

“Macklin was getting ready to fight Daniel Geale (last Saturday) and after sparring with him, his trainer, Jamie Moore, said that I was perfect preparation for Geale and they wanted me to stay longer,” said Blackwell.

This week the Trowbridge middleweight was week due to step into the training ring with Martin Murray, who beat him for the British title in 2011, and Blackwell has also previously sparred with Carl Froch.

“Unfortunately, that fight (Macklin v Geale) didn’t happen because the headline guy (Mike Perez) got injured and they cancelled the show.

“But whilst I was out there, James DeGale saw me sparring and said that he wanted to get in there with me too. We did that and then, since I’ve been back from Marbella, I’ve been over to his gym in London three or four times.

“I’ve done really well when I’ve been sparring these guys and it’s been a big confidence boost. I’ve been getting 10-15 rounds in and in one of his interviews, DeGale said ‘I’ve been sparring with Nick Blackwell and I can see why people don’t want to fight him’.

“I want to be as busy as I can be but haven’t been getting the fights. But all of this has opened a lot of doors for me.

“I’ve got a few options there and it’s all about deciding what’s best for me, what direction I want to go in and who I want in my team.”

Blackwell’s two ambitious British title shots ended in defeat to Murray and Billy Joe Saunders but the Trowbridge fighter insists that he would have no qualms fighting any of his domestic rivals.

‘Bang Bang’ said: “I’d know that I wouldn’t be worried about fighting anyone domestically. I’d fight Billy Joe Saunders again and I’d love to fight someone like (Chris) Eubank Jr but I don’t think he’d want that one.

“I think that I could hold my own against any of the top guys, like Murray or Macklin, but they’re coming to the end of their careers and they’re interested in the big-money fights before they get out of the game.”