Preview: Cardiff-based Blackwell to battle ambitious Arnfield

Preview: Cardiff-based Blackwell to battle ambitious Arnfield

Cardiff-based Nick ‘Bang Bang’ Blackwell (18-3-1, 8KO) has weighed-in for his British title defence against Blackpool’s late replacement Jack Arnfield (19-1, 4KO).

Earlier this afternoon at the Marriott Hotel in Bristol, the 25-year-old middleweight tipped the scales at 11st 5lbs 11oz, while Arnfield was a shade lighter at 11st 4lbs 8oz – both under the championship limit of 11st 6lbs.

The pair, who shared a short stare down with a respectful undercurrent of tension, will next see each other in the ring at the City Academy Sports Centre. Coverage of the main event for the joint Hennessy Sport and Sanigar Events show will start on Channel 5 at 10:00pm and the undercard will be shown on Spike TV from 7:30pm.

Last week, little-known Londoner Elliot Matthews (15-0-1, 9KO) was sidelined by injury and Arnfield quickly replaced the original opponent. The new challenger had been due to tackle Cello Renda in an eliminator but didn’t hesitate when his manager Steve Wood phoned to offer a straight shot.

After years of being a perennial underdog, hunting for the possessions of others, Blackwell now finds himself the hunted. That isn’t likely to faze the Lord Lonsdale belt holder, though – thanks to his admirable ‘bring on all comers’ attitude. It’s that mentality that may help the Trowbridge native adapt to the change. Blackwell was due to face his third straight southpaw and had taken trips to Essex to spar IBF world super-middleweight champion James DeGale to prepare.

Instead, he will face a lengthy orthodox operator who throws well-timed straight shots from mid and long range, quite the contrast to Matthews’ come forward, close contact approach.

Despite amassing an impressive 95% win ratio over the last eight years, Arnfield’s momentum has been disrupted by lengthy absences from the sport, one of those periods spent in prison for offences related to drug dealing. Still only 26, Arnfield has now stablised his career, which will no doubt be boosted by the acquisition of a knowledgeable up-and-coming coach, former world title challenger Michael Jennings.

Blackwell has also benefitted from fresh input and appears to be improving in every outing under the full-time guidance of Gary Lockett, another world title challenger in his own career. Blackwell’s bravery has never been questioned, though his improving intelligence has been overlooked. The way he adapted to come from behind and stop John Ryder and Damon Jones are signs of a slugger with more skills than meets the eye.

In the past, a lazy criticism of a raw Blackwell has been that he’s had a sparring partner mentality. Observers would often forget that Blackwell had no amateur career and not a lot more technical assistance. Now though, he’s part of a thriving gym, consisting of champions and some of Wales’ best prospects. Blackwell’s constantly learning and leading a very talented pack.

Whether Anfield moves around or meets Blackwell head on, the champion must be favoured to produce a higher and harder output to successfully retain his title. It would leave Blackwell one win away from a third defence, where another victory will allow him to own the historic British title forever.

A surely unwelcome distraction for both camps emerged yesterday when the British Boxing Board of Control [BBBoC] stated that the winner must defend the strap against Chris Eubank Jnr (20-1, 15KO). The son of Chris Eubank Snr, an opinion splitting former world champion, faces Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan on 12 December in London and his second domestic title shot must take place by the end of March. Eubank Jnr first fought for belts against Billy Joe Saunders last November, losing out on additional Commonwealth and European honours with a Split Decision loss. However, the 26-year-old would take a step towards redeeming himself in February with an exciting last round stoppage of WBA Interim champion, Dmitry Chudinov.

One man who missed out on a Mandatory Challenger nomination was Deeside’s Tom ‘Dazzlin’ Doran (16-0, 6KO), who recently extended Welsh boxing’s current longest unbeaten run on the undercard of Matchroom Sport’s ‘Who’s Fooling Who’ show in Liverpool.

Last weekend, the 28-year-old was due to contest an eliminator but his meeting with Sheffield’s previously unbeaten Rod Smith (7-1, 3KO) was demoted when Doran, who trains under Shane Thomas at Shotton Boxing Club, weighed nearly 7lbs above the championship limit. The BBBoC told trade magazine Boxing News that they will launch an inquiry in to the situation since Doran had previously weighed just one pound above the limit at a check weigh-in four days before the bout.

Whether it was intentional or an oversight, the weight mismanagement didn’t have an effect on Doran’s performance. After two competitive stanzas, the David Coldwell managed contender found the breakthrough with a left hook to the body in the third round. It left Smith reeling in agony on the canvas of the Echo Arena and he was unable to rise before referee Terry O’Connor reached the count of 10.

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