After Tyson Fury and James DeGale portrayed the best of British, super-middleweight fighter Luke Blackledge has backed the United Kingdom to add to its 11 world champions.
Fury, 27, brought an end to Wladimir Klitschko’s nine-year reign as heavyweight world champion in Dusseldorf, Germany, at the weekend to become only Britain’s fifth bona fide 200lb-plus global supremo alongside Bob Fitzsimmons, Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno and David Haye.
The king of the world captured the WBA Super, IBF and WBO titles at the ESPRIT Arena via a unanimous verdict with scores of 115-112, 115-112 and 116-111 to join a distinguished list which includes Kell Brook, DeGale, Lee Selby, Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton, Jamie McDonnell, Liam Smith, Terry Flanagan, Lee Haskins and Anthony Crolla.
“I was buzzing for Fury,” said Clitheroe’s Commonwealth champion at 168lbs. “He stuck to his gameplan and it paid off big time. I had him winning the fight comfortably in the end.
“It wasn’t the best fight to watch but he went over to Germany and did what he had to do against the champion. He stayed out of range, didn’t get drawn in, moved well and frustrated Klitschko.
“Not many fighters will go in to a champion’s back yard and beat them. I don’t think many people expected Fury to win so he proved a lot of people wrong.
“He just needs the unification bout against Wilder now to take his WBC belt and then he’ll have all of them.”
After DeGale made a successful first defence of his IBF crown against Lucian Bute at Centre Videotron in Quebec, Canada, Blackledge added: “I heard DeGale had a tough test, which was expected. He did enough to win the fight and it’s a huge step to make the first defence of your title.
“Bute is a good fighter, he’s been class in previous contests and fought some top people. It’s a big win for DeGale.”
Now Blackledge believes there’ll be more champions to come. Many within the sport regard Callum Smith as a future world champion, the likes of George Groves and Martin Murray keep pushing, Paul Butler will eventually go again after his defeat to Zolani Tete and Josh Warrington continues to push the boundaries.
There is also no ceiling to Luke Campbell’s talent, Chris Eubank Jnr is in with a shout while Liam Smith will seek to join his brother at the top when challenging IBF World super featherweight champion Jose Pedraza next year.
“It’s great, British boxing is definitely back on the map,” Blackledge said. “It’s on fire at the moment.
“This generation has been great for the sport and it’s only going to get bigger and better. There are more champions on the horizon because Britain has some great up-and-coming fighters.
“I think British boxing will keep growing now and become even more dominant. We are definitely representing. We have the heavyweight world champion and that epitomises the talent that we have in Britain.
“We are blessed with some top trainers too and promoters who are serving up some massive shows.”
And Blackledge is eager to join the elite one day, with an eagle eye on Fedor Chudinov’s WBA World strap. “Hopefully I’ll join them soon when I beat Chudinov and bring back the belt,” he said. “If I keep improving at the rate I have been doing then I can fight for a world title without a doubt.
“I’d back myself to do it within two years. I’ll be ready for that step so we’ll just have to see what opportunities I get offered. There are some big fights ahead for me.”