The Trowbridge prospect, 16-3-1, had built a strong bond with Mark Kent but felt he had to gamble in order to progress further.
“I thought it was the right time to change,” he said. “Before I felt I wasn’t throwing enough shots so I switched to Gary and he’s started to get this out of me just from taking me on the pads and sparring. I’ve always sparred with his lads and he’s a straight-talking guy. He doesn’t waste his time, and he only trains fighters who he feels can go far.”
“Bang Bang” added: “I told Mark I was thinking of training with Gary and he said if I want to go and better myself with another trainer, he wouldn’t stand in my way. It was hard but we’re really good mates. I thought he’d taken me as far as he could, especially for someone without much of a background in boxing. He brought me up to a good level but when I’m the one being punched in the face, I have to do what’s best.”
Having lost two previous British title tilts, Blackwell knows that, at 24, chances may already be at a premium. He went down in five to Martin Murray in 2010, but turned plenty of heads when pushing Billy Joe Saunders all the way in 2012 before losing a unanimous decision.
“I can’t afford to lose again,” Blackwell noted. “The problem with me is that I’m a low-reward, high-risk fighter. People don’t want to fight me because I ain’t got a belt. If I wasn’t mandatory for the British title I wouldn’t be fighting for it.”
He is, though, and could have a chance against Ryder – a fit southpaw who throws a lovely variety of shots. Since dropping a decision to Saunders in 2013, the Islington man has completed five routine stoppages albeit against journeymen.
“His last few fights have been boring,” argued Blackwell, referring mainly to his rival’s laboured ninth round TKO against Billi Facundo Godoy in January. “It’s because of his opposition that he hasn’t looked good. It’s hard to impress when the other guy is just running and trying to survive. I haven’t fought many southpaws but I enjoy facing them – Ryder won’t be a problem for me.
“It’s going to be a war. We’re both fit, strong, tough guys. I’m going to come forward and take the fight to him.”
One young talent Blackwell won’t be facing is Chris Eubank Jnr. “That fight was going to happen but once Eubank pulled out, Eddie Hearn won the purse bids for me and Ryder.”
Blackwell continued his attack, adding: “I know he’s sat down with Saunders’ camp to arrange a rematch but he has to vacate his (interim WBA) title first. He wants things his own way but Billy won their first fight, so Billy makes the rules. He seems to think he’s some kind of superstar because of his old man.
“I say fight someone good. Fight Spike O’Sullivan, fight Jamie Cox, fight me… Once I’ve got this British title he and everyone else will have to fight me. I’m buzzing. I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people on May 30.”