Clarke hoping to use Wardley as a stepping stone

Frazer Clarke is 8-0 as a pro, having scored six stoppage wins, but the former Olympic bronze medalist is ready for his biggest test in the pros when he faces rival Fabio Wardley on March 31.

Wardley is 17-0 (16 KOs), the British and Commonwealth champion, and represents a huge step for Clarke in a fight that was nearly made last year but fell apart at the negotiating table, much to the dismay of Wardley and the British fight fans.

However, the unpleasantries that flew around last year have turned it into a bigger event in 2024 and they will headline the O2 Arena, and Clarke is ready for the bright lights of a main event spot.

That said, it is nothing new to “Big Fraze”; not just because of his Olympic pedigree but because he has worked as event security for so many years, the feeling of a big-fight weigh-in and fights and press conferences are nothing new to the big man from Burton.

“It is fantastic,” he said, looking around a set with large images of his face all over the place. “I’ve seen some of these guys here for years and I have stood where some of these security guards are. I have always hoped to be up there one day and see my face on there. It makes me very proud.”

At the same time, Clarke – aged 32 – is far from overawed. He simply would rather just get to the fight.

“It is mad because I am an 8-0 pro,” Clarke went on. “But I am very experienced around these kinds of guys, and these situations don’t even excite me anymore. I’m excited for the fight, but these situations don’t do anything for me. [But] I would look a lot better on these posters when I win those titles.”

Clarke was referring to the press conference to announce the fight, and the subsequent staredown between the two boxers, but his focus was on the future, on March 31 and beyond.

“I wasn’t nervous, I wasn't shaken,” he said, of going face-to-face with Wardley. “It is now about going old-school style and grinding in the gym. He is massive [step up]. If we are going by records, there are not many 8-0 pros who fight guys who have 17 wins and 16 KOs. 

“It is a big step up, but I feel confident in taking it, and I look forward to it.”

The two have shared a ring together before, sparring a handful of rounds back in late 2022, but neither could glean much from it.

“Yeah, we did six rounds,” Clarke recalled. “We did six rounds just before I boxed Kamil Sokolowski. It was just one of those sessions when you knew you were going to fight one another one day. You have a look. Give him a bit, but not too much. It was an even spar where nothing could be taken away from it.”

There might be bad blood between the fighters now, that is even what the show is called, but the spar was professional and respectful. 

“Yeah, it was good-natured,” Clarke confirmed. “It came about because my coach knows his coach and just asked if we could get some rounds in before the end of the year. I was in London anyway, and went to Ben Davison’s for it, and it went well. We shared the rounds.”

But things are different now. There is history and a story after the out of the ring theatrics and subsequent fallout last year. It is a bigger fight now, and Clarke agrees.

“Yeah, because we have a backstory now,” stated Clarke. “I’m not saying it would have been boring back then. We haven’t got any animosity. We are just competitors who want the same thing: to win titles and progress. That has added a little bit of spice.

“This is a stepping stone for me, a step in the right direction.”