LIAM Richards is determined to make the most of an unexpected title chance after being promoted to headline a major bill in Swindon next month.

The Melksham fighter, 24, will box Walsall’s Steve Gethin for the vacant British Masters super-featherweight crown on March 5 after Trowbridge’s English middleweight champion Nick Blackwell was forced to pull out of his bout.

‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell was in line to make the first defence of the belt he won in Bath in November by facing Derbyshire’s Matt Hainy.

But that fight has been put on ice after the 20-year-old Wiltshire man’s training was disrupted by a bout of glandular fever.

Instead, Bowerhill’s Richards takes centre stage at Swindon’s MECA Centre , with his contest against journeyman Gethin, who he beat twice in quick succession in 2009.

“It’s a bit of a surprise because we were looking at one (a title fight) in April or May,’’ said Richards, pictured.

“It’s the icing on the cake really. There would have been a lot of build-up anyway because of Nick’s fight , but now I’m headlining it and I can’t wait.”

Richards was outpointed by Dudley’s Chris Male when he fought for the British Masters featherweight crown last summer – the only blot on his nine-fight record.

Gethin, 32, has lost 57 of his 71 fights, but Richards explained: “He was unhappy last time I beat him because I roughed him up a bit.

“I was using his own tactics against him and he didn’t like it and he’s been after a rematch.

“I learned a lot from my last title fight, at a lower weight and I really want to take my chance.’’

Mark Kent, Richards’ trainer at Trowbridge’s Contender Gym said: “It’s the right time for Liam to go for Masters title again.

“We’re going to look to get him down to featherweight soon and he should be able to go straight for a title fight if someone pulls out. We’re still hoping that his weight will come up in (Sky Sports) Prizefighter too.’’

On Blackwell, he added: “Nick’s come back to training this week but he would have only had four weeks’ training and one of those was tailing down while the other guy obviously would have been training for 10.’’