Manager PJ Rowson says Nick 'Bang Bang' Blackwell is ready to pull off a shock. Blackwell challenges Billy-Joe Saunders for the Commonwealth middleweight title at the ExCel Arena a week on Saturday - and the vacant British belt will also be on the line.
Saunders is making his second defence of the Commonwealth title - and the Hatfield southpaw is a red-hot favourite to keep the belt after a career-best stoppage of unbeaten Jarrod Fletcher in September.
Blackwell is a former English middleweight champion, but is best known for the one defeat on his 13-fight record. In just his ninth fight, Blackwell took a massive step up to box St Helens powerhouse Martin Murray, then rated number five by the WBA, for the Commonwealth and vacant British belts. Blackwell was pulled out by his corner after five rounds after complaining that he couldn’t breathe [perhaps an effect of getting punched repeatedly - Ed.] - and Rowson says that experience will help 'Bang Bang' shock Saunders.
The 22 year-old from Trowbridge has pulled off four inside-the-distance wins since his loss to Murray - including a career-best stoppage of Martin Concepcion - and Rowson said: "The Murray fight came too soon. But Nick learned more from that one loss than he would have learned by winning 10 fights.
"He knows what it takes to compete at that level now and he will be much better prepared this time. Nick is a different fighter now - he's bigger, stronger, knows more - and will show what he's made of in this fight.
"Nick will surprise people. He's better than people think. He's young, ambitious and ready."
Blackwell should be well prepared for next week's title challenge having had top-class southpaw sparring with Brian Magee, Kerry Hope, Tony Hill and King Davidson - and says he will crank up the pressure on Saunders.
He describes the 2008 Olympian as "a busy southpaw" and added: "He's not used to people throwing shots back at him, so we will see how he deals with being under pressure. I'm fit and ready."