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Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke face heavyweight litmus test a year in the making

Frazer Clarke is trying to pull off a feat long before Lennox Lewis, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury ever achieved it.

That trio managed to win British heavyweight titles in their 15th professional fights while Clarke, the Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist, is trying to do it in only his ninth.

His opponent at the O2 Arena on Easter Sunday, Fabio Wardley, argues it has come too soon for Clarke, and that he will dominate a fight labelled ‘Bad Blood’, which has taken a year to reach fruition.

Clarke hardly suggested he was primed for the fight when his promoter pulled him from purse bids over the initially proposed clash last year, and the boxer bore some of the resultant criticism, too.

It is a fight of contrasting backstories. While Wardley started in white-collar boxing, Clarke got his grounding in the safer environs of the GB amateur boxing set-up. With just 31 rounds to his professional resumé, it is hard to judge exactly where he is in his career.

“I’m not here to entertain people and be a clown,” he said in the build-up to the all-British fight. “I’d like to believe myself and Fabio are both here to act with some integrity and put on a good display.

“We’ve both done well selling this fight but that’s over now, it’s business time. All the talking should be done in the ring. It’s just a boxing match, every time I aim to leave victorious and that’s all it is now.

“All those mind games and talking, the bad blood, it’s there but at a competitive nature.”

Fabio Wardley puts his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles on the line against Frazer Clarke (Getty Images)
Fabio Wardley puts his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles on the line against Frazer Clarke (Getty Images)

Wardley, co-trained by Ben Davison, most recently seen in Anthony Joshua’s corner in Riyadh, has won 16 of his 17 fights by knockout and said his Easter Sunday opponent had yet to prove whether he could take on a proper puncher.

“In the pro ranks, it remains to be seen,” said the former recruitment consultant, addressing Clarke directly. “With me, you can pull up images, you can pull up videos whatever. You can prove it. It’s there to be seen. With you? Question mark.”

Three years since his Tokyo medal, for his part, Clarke is well aware of the potential history-making in fast-tracking his way to a British title quicker than Lewis, Joshua and Fury, but is also unfussed.

“It’s not relevant,” he said. “I haven’t thought about it like that. It’s a statistic for everyone else but not for me.

“I have had eight professional fights but, if we look at my career, the competition I have fought in the amateurs, I feel like I am in my 16th or 17th pro fight.”