BOXING: Rolling with the punches
NICK Blackwell is refusing to lose heart after suffering the third defeat of his professional career, despite being on the end of a demoralising decision in Ukraine last weekend.
The 22-year-old Trowbridge fighter stunned the home crowd in Kharkiv as he knocked current European champion Max Bursak down in the fourth round.
But with his experienced opponent holding on until the final bell, ‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell was controversially denied the WBA continental middleweight title as the Ukrainian was handed the decision.
Despite failing to achieve the victory his performance merited, Blackwell’s efforts have still seen him move up to sixth in the UK middleweight rankings, with the Contender Gym man also breaking in to Europe’s top 20.
And the two-time British title challenger is aiming to use the Eastern Europe upset as motivation for his next major title challenge.
“When we were over there, we saw billboards and big screens with (Bursak’s) face on them – he’s their big star and there was no way that they could let him lose,” said Blackwell.
“I watched the fight the day afterwards and, without being biased, I scored it 115-113 to me. I know that I won the fight but I just didn’t get the decision.
“I was quite down about it but to be honest, it almost feels like I won now. My ranking has gone up and back when I first put on a pair of gloves I never expected that I’d be sixth in the country.
“I was 20 when I fought Martin Murray and I did that with a broken rib and then I fought Billy Joe Saunders and some people thought that I won that fight too. Bursak was 29 and in his peak and he’d never been put down before.
“I’ve gone out and taken those big fights early on rather than waiting until I’ve had 20 or so under my belt. I don’t want to go out there and just beat people up like some other fighters do.
“(Chris) Eubank Jr and Prince Arron don’t want to fight me but I think that you should be ready to fight whoever’s put in front of you.”
Blackwell is hoping to get some more world-class sparring under his belt next month as his trainer Mark Kent finalises preparations for ‘Bang Bang’ to trade blows with Kazakh star Gennady Golovkin in New York.
The 31-year-old knockout king is preparing for a double world title defence against Curtis Stevens in November.
Blackwell said: “Mark’s just sorting things out at the moment but I’m really looking forward to it.
“I think that I’ll just learn so much from sparring with someone like that.”
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