‘This is personal’ – Wardley and Clarke face-off to announce March 31 battle

It might have been billed as Bad Blood, but British heavyweights Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke kept things respectful when they met in London to announce their March clash.

The fight, set for Sunday, March 31, at London’s O2 Arena, will likely capture the imagination and Wardley and Clarke, who nearly fought last year before politics caused a divide and they went their separate ways, will meet for Wardley’s British and Commonwealth titles.

Clarke, if he wins, will – at 8-0 (6 KOs) – become the fighter who has taken the least amount of fights to win the British heavyweight title. 

They went head-to-head at a press conference near London’s Liverpool Street Station.

“I applaud what he’s done so far,” said Clarke. “I’m here to break the mould.”

Both fighters see this as a springboard to moving up in the division, and promoters Boxxer have added this to the list of big fights in recent times for the Lonsdale Belt at heavyweight, including Joe Joyce-Daniel Dubois, Anthony Joshua-Dillian Whyte, Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora.

Wardley, wearing a T-shirt with a picture of him pushing Clarke, dressed in a baby’s outfit, in a pushchair with the words ‘Who’s the Daddy?” said of this on-off clash: “I had my reservations [the fight was ever going to happen]. I wasn’t always certain…. But it’s done, over…. Finally, everything’s over the line and we’re here.”

The champion said that his self-confidence and self-belief more than made up for his lack of amateur experience, when compared to that of the decorated former Olympian, Clarke.

“I’ve always backed myself…. Grit and determination,” Wardley added. “I know I’ve got the skillset to beat anyone that comes in my way… It ends like all my other fights, with my hand raised and him flat on his back. I don’t have anything negative towards him. We both want to smash each other’s heads in…. But, I just think I’m too much for him. I’ll give him the credit to know he’s got the challenge in front of him… I don’t think he will take me lightly at all… on paper, I’m just a white-collar fighter, the hardest person in town who’s knocked out a couple of pub fighters who’s somehow winged his way to a British title. He’s the Olympic medallist, ABA champion, so where does that leave him when I beat him.”

Clarke was equally confident in talking the talk.

“This fight is one I wanted back then,” Clarke said of the delay. “Everyone that knows me knows that…. Now we’re finally here.”

Clarke, who has been around the sport for well over a decade, discussed ‘the new age of boxing’, the ‘shenanigans’ of fighters not facing one another.

“He’s one of these new era of heavyweights, walks around with his crew but listen, it’s all about us on March 31,” Clarke added. “When you’ve been around as long as me, you see it all and you become accustomed to it.”

Some reckon Wardley starts as the oddsmakers’ favourite.

“Rightly so,” admitted Clarke. “I’m the underdog here. Considering where he started and where he is now, it’s probably one of the best journeys to a British title we’ve seen so far.” 

“This is war,” Clarke added. “The next eight-nine weeks is very personal.”