News June 2017

Blackledge Unfazed by Denmark Danger as he faces Menacing Mock


By Michael J Jones

LANCASHIRE’S Luke Blackledge has made a career out of taking insanely-tough assignments. Following a career on the unlicenced circuit, “Robbo” took on all comers as he sought to make a name for himself in pro boxing.

It is a credit to him and trainer Alex Matvienko that he has come through several testing moments in his career to still be fighting in championship class. Following his last title contest; a brutal knock-out loss to world-rated Scouse puncher Callum Smith, Blackledge is heading to Denmark to face long-time danger-man Lolenga Mock.

Yes, you did read that last name right…

Lolenga Mock is probably best remembered for flooring future cruiserweight and heavyweight champion David Haye way back in 2003. The Kinshasa-born Mock was considered little more than a blown-up super-middleweight but gave Haye all he could handle before being controversially stopped in the fourth.

After having Haye, in just his seventh fight, all at sea and down from a shot to the temple, Mock was close to scoring another knock-down in the fourth but walked into a tremendous right uppercut. Whilst Haye could barely stand straight after his trip to the canvas, Mock got up calmly and held his hands up to continue but the ref unbelievably stopped the fight.

How different the David Haye story might have been if not for that horrendous call from the referee…

Fast-forward to 2017 and Mock is now 45-years-old but, like boxing legends such as Bernard Hopkins and Archie Moore, appears still capable of producing a high level of boxing despite his advanced years. Now 39-14-1 (13) and still in superb shape, Mock is on an eight-fight winning streak and has recently beaten respected opposition such as (former Prizefighter winner) Patrick Mendy and American Derek Edwards (a knock-out victor against Badou Jack a few years back).

It looks a very hard match for Blackledge but, talking to Livefight a few days ago, the bout unsurprisingly holds no fear for the former Commonwealth super-middleweight champion.

“Mock is 45 but the worst mistake I can make is thinking he’s just an old man” Blackledge comments of his June 17th opponent. “Yes he’s 45 but he’s still dangerous and can hit like a mule. He’s still highly-ranked and it will be a very hard fight.”

The 23-3-2 (8) puncher was talking over the phone from camp in Germany where he is currently engaging in valuable training and sparring with former world light-heavyweight champion Jürgen Braehmer and current WBA super-middleweight ruler Tyrone Zeuge.

“It’s been very good here in Germany, we’ve trained and sparred every day and I’m here with my coach Alex (Matvienko) and (gym-mate) Jack Flatley. This is the last hard week of training before the fight and, on the same night I’m fighting, Tyrone Zeuge is also fighting (against veteran Brit Paul Smith.”

At this point I admit that I actually know little of Zeuge despite his world champion status. I ask Luke how good a fighter the German is?

“He’s very good, he has good timing on his shots and can move and whack a bit. He’s also got good distance. I see him beating Smith but Smith always has a punchers’ chance with that left hook of his.”

The Clitheroe bruiser has had mixed fortunes in his career this last twelve months. Last May, he began his 2016 campaign with a routine stoppage of Ishmael Tetteh to complete the third defence of his Commonwealth belt after impressive distance wins over Liam Cameron and Lee Markham respectively.

With a British title shot against Callum Smith looming, the super-middleweight then had a near miss against big-hitting journeyman Elvis Dube in what was meant to serve as a routine warm-up.

Dube doesn’t win many but has a hellacious right-hand when he chooses to use it. In the opening minute-and-a half, Blackledge started well behind the jab against his shorter opponent before disaster struck.

As the taller man was just starting to open up, Dube thudded a massive right flush on the chin to shockingly leave Blackledge in a heap.

“I’ll admit now that was a heavy knock-down and I was ‘gone’. I got lazy and switched off for a moment and that was it.”

The stricken fighter hauled himself up from the canvas with glassy eyes but bravely saw out the crisis (before Elvis could leave the building). Dube never managed to repeat his early success and Blackledge took the spoils by a clear 58-55 margin.

“I learned a lot from that fight and, if I’m taking positives from it, I managed to survive and still came out with the win. Also, Dube doesn’t win many but he’s dropped loads of lads in sparring and also in a lot of his defeats he decked them so he’s got some power there.”

After the near-disaster against Dube, Blackledge was then deemed a massive underdog against the tall, powerful and unbeaten British champion Callum Smith. The two would collide last December in Manchester and didn’t prove the formality many predicted beforehand for “Mundo”.

“Against Dube I took a liberty but I knew with Callum Smith one mistake could spell the end so I had a much different mind-set before that fight. I felt we had a good game-plan but we couldn’t execute it as we wanted because the ref’ kept stopping me from working inside.”

“I got so far in the fight and realised I wasn’t winning rounds so just went for broke and got caught.”

Smith, as his custom, started quickly and dropped Luke in the third. Blackledge had to use all of his toughness to stay in the contest as he had to endure some torrid moments. He was deducted a point for holding in the seventh but rallied to have one of his best rounds in the ninth.

Entering the tenth round, Smith was clearly ahead though the fight had gone far further than most had anticipated. As Blackledge moved forward to unload, Smith beat him to the punch with a bone-crunching left hook to end matters suddenly and decisively.

There were worrying scenes after the fight’s conclusion as Luke was put into the recovery position and then given oxygen as a precaution. Thankfully he exited the contest with no serious injury and strongly disagrees with the suggestion he should have been pulled out of the fight sooner.

“Callum Smith is an absolute beast and if I’d have been in with any other British fighter I’d have become British champion that night. I lost to a future world champion and, I’ll tell you this, the day after the fight all I had was two little black eyes and I felt fine.”

“People talk shit, why would Alex have stopped the fight? I was losing yes but not taking much cleanly; both times he hit me cleanly I went over. That was my world title fight and I would have been so disappointed if it would have been stopped before that. As far as I’m concerned there was no reason at all to have stopped it any sooner.”

For the winner Smith, world title glory beckons as he faces talented American Anthony Dirrell on September 9th for the vacant WBC title.

“I honestly think Callum Smith has a chance with any fighter on the planet as he’s just got that freakish power, world-class timing and he’s also big and strong. I believe he will win and become the WBC champion.”

Following his heroic stand against Smith and subsequent warm up last month (a KO of Olegs Fedotovs in Bolton), Blackledge is now set for battle-hardened Lolenga Mock in Denmark. The 26 year old has boxed in Denmark twice previously; in 2012 he knocked out the vastly more-experienced Mads Larsen before returning the following year to drop a decision to Swedish light-heavyweight Erik Skoglund.

“I’ve been there twice before and I get a bit of support over there in Denmark and some Danish fans have been wishing me luck” reveals “Robbo”. “I know it won’t be easy but I’ve just got to do everything I possibly can to get the win. It’s worked out perfectly really, I’ve had a warm-up, then a great couple of weeks in Germany and then this big opportunity against Mock.”

Mock was always known for being rugged with a cast-iron jaw (only Haye has stopped him in 54 pro fights) and good power. Coming off a brace of victories it appears the aging long-time contender has not diminished far from the danger-man he has always been.

“He’s still got that power” acknowledges Luke once more. He was just nine months old when Mock made his pro debut in 1991. “He dropped Haye, he dropped Skoglund so he can hit but it’s not like he can possibly hit any harder than Callum Smith! I’m just lucky I’ve got a head like concrete!”

With no major backing throughout his seven year career and often reduced to taking on thankless fights on short notice, does it ever occur to Blackledge he has never really got the credit he deserves despite taking on the hardest fights available for most of his 28 bout career?

“That’s just how boxing works” sighs the Lancashire road warrior. “My view is you get out of it what you put in and I’m working very hard to achieve my goals and I will get my shot. Once I come through Mock I’ll be in the top twenty or thirty in the world and primed for boxing for the European title.”

Lolenga Mock vs Luke Blackledge will feature on June 17th at the Ceres Arena, Aarhus, Denmark. No title on the line as we were going to press in the intriguing ten-rounder.

Luke Blackledge would like to thank his loyal supporters, team and his sponsors AJ Wood for their continued support.

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