All I know is professional boxing, states Fabio Wardley ahead of clash with amateur heavyweight star Frazer Clarke

Fabio Wardley is relishing the chance to stake his tough guy reputation against Olympic bronze medalist Frazer Clarke.

The British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion collides with rival Clarke on Sunday, March 31 in London’s O2 Arena on an increasingly-stacked Boxxer bill, and it is a fight Wardley always hoped to land, despite painstaking talks falling apart at the 11th hour in 2023.

“It had been played with [the prospect of fighting] and discussed all the way through to purse bids previously,” said Wardley. “So, it was always on the cards. Some boxing people and boxing fans had even lost faith because of the time in between, but we are here, signed, over the line, and all roads lead to the 31st of March.”

But while the show is called Bad Blood, the two have been civil if determined in the initial stages of the build-up to the O2 battle.

There was definitely some aggravation, yeah,” Wardley admitted, of the residual ill-will and feelings of whether it would ever happen. “There was a lot of time wasted, but it was half and half. I wasted a lot of time preparing. My team and I were putting a lot of things in place for that fight, and it all went south. I had to rejig my plans, find a new fight, and things like that. So, there is definitely some aggravation on my part.”

The fight now, however, is bigger than it would have been last year, not least because Wardley went on to impressively topple David Adeleye in Saudi Arabia last October. That has improved Wardley’s credentials and possibly even enhanced confidence, not that he was lacking that beforehand.

“Yes, with more momentum and experience, I am more comfortable on those bigger stages and situations,” Wardley added.

“I have been fortunate to co-main some big fights and events for Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte, so I have done those situations now, and it's my turn to headline and be part of that big occasion, which I think might be pretty new to Frazer.”

Clarke, of course, begs to differ. The Tokyo bronze medalist has a proven amateur pedigree, while it’s no secret Wardley came through the white-collar and unlicensed ranks to get to where he is. Although many see Clarke has the more seasoned operator because of his amateur standings, Clarke is only 8-0 in the pros. Wardley is 17-0, and he’s served as a sparring partner to some of the best in the sport today.

Their respective experiences are very different.

“Yeah, that has been my point throughout,” said Wardley. “There is a certain amount that you can take from his amateur experience; I do understand that. But a large part of that is inapplicable. The fight won’t be over in three rounds [the amateur distance] if no one gets stopped or anything like that. There are no easy-standing eight-counts or things like that. No head guards, but I know things have changed with that with the ABA now, but even still, the pro game is extremely different.

“Those comparisons will always be made. I was born and raised in the pro game. I didn’t have all the amateur experience. All I know is professional boxing.”