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Threats And Abuse Gave Clarke The ‘Ice-Cold Mind’ He Needs To Defeat Wardley

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Frazer Clarke believes that the abuse he suffered when he was perceived to have avoided fighting Fabio Wardley has transformed him as a fighter.

The heavyweights contest Wardley’s British and Commonwealth titles on Sunday evening at London’s O2 Arena, long after their status as rivals meant that attempts to match them had been made.

Clarke’s promoters Boxxer resisted those attempts in the belief that he required more experience as a professional, but for all that he recognises he is an improved fighter as a consequence, the delay damaged his reputation and led to abuse that he considered reporting to the police.

The 32 year old is considered a narrow underdog for what represents the biggest fight of his career, but he is unfazed by that because of the extent to which he believes he has “matured”.

“The way that ended, that scenario, a year ago, the way it made me mature and do a lot for me, mentally, is unbelievable,” he said. “I was a bit emotional at the time; was a bit new to the pros and a bit naive. But things happening over the last year, I believe it’s made me into the person I am today, and that’s a strong, level-headed man that knows his job.

“I’ve had to endure a lot of s***. Everyone gets that. When you’re in the limelight and you’re on TV, you get a lot of s***, and the world we live in now, we see a lot of bad things wrote about yourself. Social media; people having their opinions. People take it further than boxing. I’ve had my family abused; my missus; my kids. It just did something to me. It made me ice cold and steely in the mind. I’ve had to ignore all that and just move from it. We’ve come out the other side of it, a rough few weeks, in a better place.

“I tried to keep it away from them as much as possible, but it upset me more. There’s a couple of really bad comments about my kids [Clarke has a two-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter] that I was really close about going to the police about. I gritted my teeth and just, sort of let it go. ‘Cause the ones about me, that’s part and parcel, but when you’re talking about my kids, about my house and where I live and turning up and doing this and doing that… It’s just a bad world out there. Some bad people. But I’ve come through that, see the right thing to do, and that was to concentrate on what I’m doing and stay on my path and I’ve done that.

“One of the things I was naive about coming into the pros with was, coming from the Olympics [Clarke won a bronze medal at Tokyo 2020], you almost think everyone’s going to love you ‘cause you’ve done a service for the country. But, ultimately, that falls by the wayside. No one gives a s*** about what you did yesterday; it’s all about what you’re doing now. 

“Performances haven’t been stellar, so people judge you on what you’re doing in the moment, which is fair enough. It’s made me a better fighter, because it made me understand that you ain’t gotta impress no one. Ben Whittaker’s a showman; a superstar. He’s super-duper talented. I know my limits. I’m not a flashy showman. What I am is a well-schooled boxer who knows his job, and that’s what I intend to do on Saturday night. Use that skill; all that experience and all them basics to win this fight.”

Clarke was therefore asked how personal is his rivalry with the 29-year-old Wardley, and he said: “Not very, if I’m honest. I’m looking to become British champion. I have no personal feelings towards Fabio Wardley. I don’t dislike him; don’t like him. He’s just an opponent, and that’s the honest truth of it. 

“During the build-up it gets a bit heated at times, but there’s definitely no emotion towards Fabio Wardley. He’s just another young, hungry fighter like myself that’s trying to better himself.

“I’ve just thought about the fact that the fight is on now and I’ve gotta go and win it. All that stuff that happened in the past, anyone that knows me can tell you I’m not really an over-thinker of things. If it’s important I’ll keep it in there. If it’s not it sort of goes by the wayside. This is a very important night for me and it’s took my whole focus.”

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