8.5 C
New York

Angel in Frazer Clarke’s Corner ‘Proud’ Of His Charge After Fabio Wardley War


Angel Fernandez is wary of the consequences of a rematch between Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke.

Sunday’s British and Commonwealth heavyweight title fight – which was scored a draw, despite Clarke recovering from a fifth-round knockdown and appearing to do enough to secure victory – proved sufficiently entertaining that demand to see them fight a second time will continue to grow.

The 32-year-old Clarke, post-fight, spoke about his desire to pursue an immediate rematch and the titles that remain with Wardley, but for all that his trainer understands about the commercial appeal, Fernandez recognises the toll Sunday’s fight at The O2 Arena would have taken on both fighters, and the likelihood that a rematch would almost guarantee more or the same.

“It’s the titles he wants,” Fernandez said. “On the other side, I understand the public will demand that again. But at the same time, the rematch – 12 rounds – we could potentially see a more devastating fight for both of them. At this level, do we need these kinds of fights? 

“Both men are fantastic; they show heart; they show character; they show desire. So many things. Elements a fighter requires. But if we’re having these fights where we are – now, like this – we have to understand that if the career of the fighter is the ultimate goal, how are we going to get there if we start having these sorts of fights right now? My job is to prepare my fighter in the best physical condition and go again. It wouldn’t make sense to have another fight before Fabio. If Fabio’s next, let’s go straight away for it.

“From outside, the taste is like we lost, but I see it as Frazer won them titles, so if Fabio’s still holding them titles it’ll make sense to have the rematch. We got a great 12 rounds. If I’m talking as a fan, not a coach, 100 per cent I want to see the rematch. If I’m talking as a coach, I also would like it, but I also have to think about the length of the career of the fighter. Another 12 rounds like that, or even less, it can have devastating psychological or physical effects.

“It was very intense. A lot of mind games from day one. Even in the changing room they started saying things about the [hand] wraps when we had an experienced man in Ian Gattman that has been wrapping hands for pretty much all his life. 

“Then you have, in [Wardley’s] corner, a whole team of coaches; the Ipswich [Wardley’s hometown] flag put next to us. It’s all fun and games but all that matters is the moment. It’s the most intense fight I’ve ever been in.”

Clarke had been the narrow underdog, but despite surpassing the expectations of most observers — particularly after Wardley, 29, knocked him down, and after Clarke was deducted a point for a low blow — he, Fernandez and those around them struggled to see the positives of so entertaining a fight being scored a draw.

“I thought we had it by one round – maybe two,” the Spaniard said. “How the fight went – I understand the crowd noises; the spells from Fabio here and there – [but] even with the point deduction and the knockdown I would still have given Frazer [victory] by one round.

“I was very pleased [overall] with how he operated. There was a few things I wasn’t happy with. I already know what things need to be changed for next time; what I need to work on. But overall, comparing Frazer’s previous fights with this one, I have to be very pleased. I’m proud for him. Little things like a lack of focus at times. Not much technically, but psychological and tactical elements we need to work on. 

“But Frazer knows this, and he pretty much admitted it when he came into the changing room, ‘Listen, there’s no one to blame but myself’. That shows a lot of character and strength. We live and we learn.

“[Post-fight, those in dressing room were] disappointed. Very disappointed. We felt like we lost. How Frazer was after the knockdown; how he performed; how he conducted himself; how well he was listening — on those areas I’m very happy, but we had a draw, and in our heads we don’t want to get that. We go there to win. 

“The moment that you feel the weakest is the moment you have to show how strong you are. When he came to the corner I asked if he was okay. He said ‘Yes’. I said, ‘This man is going to come to try and finish you – you go at him straight away’, and that’s what he did.”

Related articles

Recent articles