News April 2019

Unfazed and focused: Matty Clarkson ready for CH5 debut


By @John_Evans79

After last Saturday night’s promising start, Channel 5’s attempt to reintroduce quality domestic level boxing to the masses could get another shot in the arm this weekend when Matty Clarkson, 11-1-2 (3 KO’s), makes his terrestrial television debut.

The exciting light heavyweight from Preston gets the chance to impress viewers when he takes on Lee Duncan, 5-8-2, in the first round of Hennessey Sport’s 175lb tournament at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge Arena.

The first half of the eight man shoot-out got off to an entertaining start last weekend with Bob Ajisafe beating Dean Francis to lift the British title and Leon Senior retaining his Southern Area title after a second round clash of heads left Tony Hill too badly cut to continue. Not that Clarkson was watching.

“I didn’t see it. I’ve not watched it,” Clarkson, 27, told Livefight. “It’s not something I’m really focused on at the minute. I caught half a round of Bob Ajisafe’s fight and the first little bit of the Senior fight. I listened to a bit of the commentary and that was about it, then I turned it off.

“That side of the draw isn’t something I need to be taking much notice of yet. I need to get through Saturday first.”

Clarkson has made his name by steadily climbing the bill on Dave Coldwell’s successful shows – which have grown beyond the ‘small hall’ label they are still unfairly tagged with - and he has made Manchester’s Bowlers Arena something of a second home. The escalating size of the events has given Clarkson a taste of what to expect this weekend and he has been able to concentrate on Saturday’s fight without getting carried away by the hoopla surrounding it.

“We’ve done a lot of camera stuff already so we’re up to date on that,” said a totally unfazed Clarkson. “We were supposed to have the press conference on the Thursday but they’ve moved that to Friday. That doesn’t really bother me as it saves me travelling to Sheffield again. You don’t really want to be travelling two hours there and two hours back the day before the weigh in.

“There’s no extra pressure for me. It’s not my first rodeo or first big fight. I’ve had big fights before. I’ve headlined bills before – obviously not on Channel 5 – but when we went to South Africa [to fight Tshepang Mohale] people were stopping us in restaurants and in the street and we had people queuing up outside the gym to watch me train and get autographs and pictures. It got to the point where they wanted my t-shirt! It was crazy over there.

“It’s not additional pressure to me. It might be for him though. He’s expected to perform too. It’s his hometown and he’ll have all his mates there. He’s got to raise his game to beat me, not the other way around. I just have to do what I’ve been doing the last six or seven weeks in the gym and I’ll be fine. I’ve never dipped in performance yet and I can’t see me doing now.”

Clarkson and Duncan, who fights out of Sheffield’s famous Ingle Gym, would probably never have met had it not been for the tournament. Since being outpointed by Courtney Fry in an ambitious early career gamble, Clarkson has rebounded well. His trip to South Africa saw him stop Mohale, he returned to claim the Central Area title by outpointing Carl Wild and successfully defended the belt with a first round knockout of the previously unbeaten Jamie Kelly. Whilst Clarkson has been on the rise, the majority of Duncan’s work has seen him placed firmly in the role of ‘opponent’.

“I wouldn’t say I’d have been looking to move beyond him. I am beyond him anyway in my eyes. I’m way above him in the rankings. He’s about 24th or 25th and I’m number eight or nine. I do believe I’m a couple of levels above him; I just have to go and prove it on Saturday night. He’s gonna be awkward and it’s a potential banana skin but I’m professional enough and I can’t see myself slipping up.

“He’s gonna wanna win. He’s gonna come and want to prove a lot of people wrong and it’s my job to sort of knock it on the head. He has been used a lot at late notice so it’s up to me – especially in the early rounds – to make sure he starts thinking 'Christ. It’s happening again. Here we go again. I’ve seen this before.' I’ll make him slip into the journeyman mode pretty quickly. He’s not gonna get a foothold in the fight and it won’t be a matter of ‘your go, my go’. I won’t let him get involved in the fight. I can see myself taking over early on and levels will show.”

The English light heavyweight contest between Danny McIntosh and Travis Dickinson and the Central Area light heavyweight title clash between Matty Clarkson and Lee Duncan, along with Kid Galahad's European Super Bantamweight title fight against former Spanish champion Sergio Prado takes place at Ponds Forge Arena, Sheffield, on Saturday March 22, live on Channel 5.

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