Nick Blackwell

Frank Buglioni is a lucky man.  He has a world title shot against Fedor Chudinov coming up on September 26th, and to help him prepare he has some more than adequate assistants.  Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan has been putting in the rounds of sparring to help him prepare, later this month he is joined by the man he lost to a year ago, Sergey Khomitsky, and now he also has another man in camp to fine tune his preparations - Nick Blackwell.
Nick 'Bang Bang' Blackwell though is more than a glorified sparring partner - he's a champion in his own right.  This is a man who carries not only a top record (18-3-1) but also carries with him the British middleweight title which he won back in May, knocking out John Ryder (20-1-0) in the process.  I catch up with 'Bang Bang' as he is in Dublin, deep in the Buglioni training camp in Dublin.
"I'm just doing some sparring with him, Khomitsky comes over in a couple of weeks as well" says Blackwell.  Khomitsky is a man that Blackwell fought and drew with in October of last year.  The Belarusian has a history of upsetting British talent - in the last 18 months he has recorded wins over both Buglioni himself and another Brit who was undefeated at the time, Adam Etches.  How is it training alongside a man that you shared the ring with in the past?  "If the chance comes up to spar Khomitsky then I'll take it, it's always good to get quality sparring."
Blackwell has been relatively busy of late - 4 fights are in the ban over the last 12 months, the draw with Khomitsky followed by three subsequent victories.  He's looking to get back in the ring again soon, and on one of the highest profile events of the year.  "I'm hoping to be on the undercard of the Fury versus Klitschko show, it would be wicked to get on that" he tells me.  Quite the profile boost if that comes off, but that may all come down to his promoter Mick Hennessy (who he shares with Tyson Fury).  "Mick's a pain in the ass to get hold of, he's so busy and I think he's on holiday!"
The deal with Hennessy came about last year, signing a long term promotional deal with the Kent based promotional outfit Hennessy Promotions.  "Mick is one of the very few genuine guys in boxing, he's not there to make loads and loads of money off of you and for himself.  He looks after you, he's just a pain in the ass to get hold of as he's a busy, busy man!  But he's a real nice bloke.  I haven't got a bad word to say about him, and I've never heard a bad word said about him.  I trust him 100%.
It is since signing with Hennessy Promotions that Blackwell has picked up the British title - now in his possession it is something that Blackwell is looking to keep defending.  Two months after stopping Ryden in May, he defended the belt for the first time against undefeated Damon Jones in July, stopping the Leeds fighter in the sixth round.  "I'm still only 24, so I've got age on my side.  If I ever have kids I want to be able to show them what I won, hang it up on the wall!"  Another two defences and the belt will be his for keeps.  With 22 fights under his belt already and still young, Blackwell has as much experience as he has appetite for the sport. 
I put to him the potential of a domestic matchup with Chris Eubank Jr, a fight that was previously spoken of put couldn't be agreed.  "Hopefully I can get Chris, but I think he will take the easy route making as much money as he can.  Because he has that WBA intercontinental belt he will just try and fight foreigners until he gets a world title shot from doing that, fair play to him".  So if Eubank is off the radar for now, what other domestic names interest Blackwell?
"(Matthew) Macklin I would love to fight.  He's a really nice lad but I just think he's past it, he really is.  He has one more fight in him, a big pay day, then he can enjoy life.  Same with Eamonn O'Kane, he's looking for a big pay day and then he's out of there.  But there's Tom Doran, Anthony Ogogo, Adam Etches, Ryder again.   Ryder's a good fighter.  Tommy Langford is coming up too - there's so many prospects so any of them would be great."
Nick Blackwell
It is a rich division in Britain at the moment, laced with prospects and experience.  It promises to give Blackwell some high profile matches to defend his British title in.  There is one thing though that matters most to Blackwell - giving fans value for their money.  "I just want to be involved in decent tear ups, fan pleasing fights.  I don't want to be in there with someone who will just run away and try to win on points.  I can't be bothered with that, I want someone who will stand toe-to-toe and have a war."  It is that exciting style of fighting that has seen his profile raise in the last year.  His fight with Ryder happened at the O2 in front of 20,000 fans, and it served as a showcase for his talents to those in attendance as well as fans at home watching it live on Sky.

The southpaw skills that he has been displaying are now being fine tuned in a new location.  Recently 'Bang Bang' changed his trainer, from long term coach Mark Kent to former world title challenger Gary Lockett.  It's a sacrifice for Blackwell, travelling to work with the Welshman each week:

"It's an hour and a half from where I live, so I go down there Monday to Friday and come back home at weekends.  I was going backwards with Mark.  It was a long time coming and I should have done it a lot longer.  I spoke with Gary over a coffee and he said he would take me on, but I had to talk to my old trainer first.  I spoke with him and we were fine - now I'm at Gary's gym and all the lads are at a really good level and we have a good relationship."
It feels like a fresh start for Blackwell - in the past 18 months he has picked up a new trainer, a new promotional deal and the British title.  He doesn't talk ahead of himself - no mention of world titles yet and recognition that he has age on his side.  With ambitions to win the British title outright the fans are likely to see more of his explosive "tearup" style on these shores for the next year at least.  Coach Gary Lockett is renowned for his hard working style and fine-tuning already polished fighters - the next 18 months may yet prove to be more prosperous than the last.

Nick wanted to pass on his thanks to his prinicpal sponsors who have supporter his career.  These included Box Steam Brewery, who have "been there from day one".  Wild West Beef Jerky have also been key to Nick's progression, as well as Cafe Pure in Cardiff who provide all of the meal requirements for training camps.  Briken Motors, Silk Money and DW Property Rentals have also given him support throughout his career, and finally Blackwell wanted to give his thanks to NutriStrength who provide his supplements through training.