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Frazer Clarke: It Devastated Me When I Didn’t Get To Take This Fight Last Year

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FRAZER CLARKE POSES AT WEIGH-IN AHEAD OF MARCH 31 BRITISH TITLE CHALLENGE VERSUS FABIO WARDLEY AT THE O2 IN LONDON. PHOTO CREDIT: LAWRENCE LUSTIG/BOXXER

Frazer Clarke understood the public disappointment.

There was an opportunity for the Olympic Bronze medalist to have challenged for Fabio Wardley’s British title last spring. Instead, promoter Ben Shalom informed the British board that Clarke was no longer proceeding with the mandatory title challenge.

The fans were quick with its criticism. Clarke took it on the chin and was equally critical of the situation, if only internally.

“It devastated me when I didn’t get to take this fight last year,” Clarke admitted to The Ring. “I needed to get back to this fight and change the public opinion. As soon as there was a chance to make this fight, I was all-in.

“Before then, I took it personally when people thought I didn’t want it. So, it was important to grab it as soon as it became available again.”

Wardley and Clarke meet in a battle of unbeaten U.K. heavyweights for Wardley’s British and Commonwealth titles. Sky Sports and Peacock+ will air the show this Sunday, beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET from London’s The O2.

Clarke (8-0, 6 knockouts) enters as the better-credentialed boxer, given his extensive amateur background. Still, he enters as the betting underdog versus Wardley (17-0, 16 KOs), who learned while he earned as a pro.

The two have been on vastly different paths.

Wardley (17-0, 16 KOs) has already been tested as the top domestic level and has separated from the pack.

Meanwhile, it’s been a slow progression for Clarke through eight pro fights. He has remained perfect as a pro but has varied in performances when it comes to looking like the next big thing.

The wrong type of opponents can force you to fight below your level. A lack of motivation won’t be a problem for this matchup.

“If I’m honest, I almost felt reborn in this camp,” admitted Clarke, who stopped David Allen after six rounds last September 3 in Manchester. “It comes with lining up these kind of fights. In the amateurs at the level I fought at, my schedule was stacked up with 50-50 fights. That hasn’t come to me in the pros, at least not until this opportunity.

“When you enter camp to prepare for fighters you know you’re levels better, it’s hard to get motivated. This matchup and the training camp really brought out the best in me.”

The out is by far the most significant of Clarke’s pro career. It’s also his last significant test since the Tokyo Olympics, where he advanced to the medal round for Great Britain. Clarke was stopped by eventual Gold medalist Bakhodir Jalolov in the semifinal round.

The bulk of the Great Britain team signed pro contracts with Shalom’s BOXXER. Clarke was joined by teammates Ben Whittaker, Lauren Price, Caroline Dubois and Karriss Artingstall on that journey.

Wales’ Price (6-0, 1 KO) was one of two overall team members to win Gold. The 29-year-old southpaw next challenges RING and WBA welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill on May 11.

Artingstall (6-0, 1 KO, Price’s life partner and aspiring featherweight contender, is not far behind. London’s Dubois (9-0, 5 KOs) is already a top contender at lightweight.

Whittaker (6-0, 5KOs) is still on the way up, though he has already brilliantly raised his profile through entertainment value.

The concept of catch-up is not lost on Clarke, who plans to use a win on Sunday as a springboard.

“After this, we want to continue with another upward step,” vowed Clarke. “I want to get involved in the big fights. We don’t want to look backwards ever again after Sunday.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Follow @JakeNDaBox

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