NICK Blackwell has vowed to show off the extent of his improvement in 2014 when he steps into the ring for the first time this year in Bath tomorrow night.

‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell (14-3) takes on Birmingham’s former Prizefighter light- middleweight finalist Terry Carruthers (15-16-6) in a ten-round super-middleweight contest at the Forum, after a mooted inter-continental title bout failed to come to fruition.

Trowbridge’s two-time British middleweight title challenger, 23, is expecting a tough test against former sparring partner Carruthers but is looking to send out a fearsome statement as he eyes more top opportunities later this year.

“I’m going to be a different fighter on Saturday – 100 per cent,” said Blackwell.

“My workrate’s going to be a lot better and I’m hitting a lot harder.

“I’ve been knocking people out in sparring and when I’ve got 10oz gloves on and they’ve got no headguard, it’s going to hurt a lot more.

“I’ve been getting a lot stronger and that’s down to a lot strength work over at Crossfit (Civitas) in Melksham.

“They’ve been doing a lot of stuff working on my legs because one leg was a lot stronger than the other and I’ve been seeing the difference in sparring.

“I’ve sparred him (Carruthers) before my fight in Ukraine (against Max Bursak in September last year) and before the Billy Joe Saunders fight (in December 2012).

“He’s tough, he’s quick and he’s fit, and he’s not wired up right to be honest because he always tells you to hit him harder – it’s going to be a war and it’ll be a good fight.

“If he beats me, he’s got British title shots coming up, so it’s a big fight for him too and it’s good that I know he’s coming to fight.”

The Contender Gym man added: “I’ve been training since January 1 and I’ve been sparring here, there and everywhere.

“I’m fighting at 12 stone for this fight, so it’s more natural, but I like to burn weight off gradually, so I’ll hopefully have six weeks until the next fight and for that, I’ll be at 11 1/2 (middleweight).

“I’ve had some really good sparring, I’ve had no injuries, I haven’t been ill and my weight’s fine, so everything’s gone perfectly really.

“I say every year that I want to keep busy but hopefully I can get two more big fights in after this one before the summer.”

Bristol fighter Danny Butler’s English middleweight title defence against Martin Concepcion, who Blackwell beat when he held the belt in March 2012, tops the Forum bill, while Malmesbury’s Joe Hughes takes on Bulgarian Kristian Dochev for the International Masters light-welterweight belt.

Blackwell’s Contender Gym stablemates Gareth Heard, Luke Martin and Dan Carr take on Keith Sheen, James Oliphant and Lee Gibbons respectively, with Bath middleweight Mike Rose, Bristol's Peter Leworthy, debutant Jason Gardiner and Tom Duff also in action.

Tickets are still available from the Contender Gym on Church Street (01225 761166).