AS a serving soldier with a tour of Afghanistan behind him, the ring holds few fears for Southampton light-heavyweight Chris Hobbs (5-1-1) who takes on London’s Jordan Joseph (6-0-1) for the Southern Area title at the York Hall on March 11. After a demoralizing 2016 during which he suffered a dislocated shoulder against Kelvin Young in his only career loss compounded by the sudden cancellation of a bout against Hasan Karkardi for the Southern Area in December, the likeable Hobbs is eager to make up for lost time. Few readers will be unaware of the horrible circumstances leading to Karkardi’s suspension, and Hobbs tells Boxing News of his immense frustration at those events and also his determination to seize the Southern Area strap and take his career to the next level:

“I think Karkardi and Liam Wilkins are complete idiots, it’s disgusting. It’s not like they didn’t know who Nick Blackwell was, they’re from the same area. Nick has to take some responsibility for himself of course but boxing was his life and he lost it all so I do feel gutted for him, but in my view the trainer is most to blame and Wilkins shouldn’t be allowed to be anywhere near a boxer ever again. I can’t think of another single boxer who would have got in the ring with him, or another trainer that would have let it happen. It was a real blow when my manager Michael Ballingall told me the fight was cancelled, I was in such good shape as I’d literally been training full-time for ten weeks. He was all I was thinking about because it was quite a dangerous fight and I knew I’d have to be at my best.”

On the possibility of boxing the disgraced Karkardi in the future he says: “I can’t see many people wanting to work with him now and I’d be surprised if we saw Karkardi in a ring again. He’s not a ticket seller and whatever popularity he had will have gone after this so now he’s going to bring even less to the table. His career is going to be completely overshadowed by this. If I was offered him again as a fight and it made sense career-wise I’d happily give him a ****ing beating not only for Blackwell but for all the trouble he’s caused me.”

Between Hobbs and any future plans stands Jordan Joseph, and Hobbs is relishing the opportunity to bring the title back to Southampton: “It was brilliant when I heard the shot had been confirmed and that I’d be headlining the show for a prestigious title, it’s a really big deal for me. To other boxers it may not seem a big deal, but it is to me. It’s the home of British boxing, so it’s a great thrill as I never got to fight there as an amateur or a pro. I can’t wait and I want to thank ‘Raging Beasts’ for the great kit they’ve made me for the fight. I know Joseph didn’t have much of an amateur career, but I believe he’s quite stylish and while I’d never run an opponent down, I don’t think he’s strong enough to keep me off him. I think he’s going to box and try and stay out of the way but my workrate is going to be too high for him. He’s going to be shocked when he gets in with someone who’s constantly there pressuring him, not fazed by anything he’s got and someone who can dig a bit. I’m going to be stronger and I’m going to be fitter than him, and there’s no way he wants that title more than I do. I’ve been doing this since I was eleven years old, it’s not just happened overnight and it’s been a long journey to get to this point. He’s mine. If he hasn’t got a chin I’m going to find out. If he hasn’t got a heart I’m going to make him quit.

“It may be his crowd on the night but that won’t bother me. As a Southampton lad who boxes out of Portsmouth I’ve been booed for years. I’m used to it! I want that Southern Area title, make a couple of defences and then target the English. Whatever my manager says, we’ll do. If the English title came up against Joel McIntyre I’d be happy with that. The division is wide open at the moment, Cleverly aside. Bob Ajisafe is so tricky because he’s tall, Callum Johnson who’s a very good boxer, but after those three the next fifteen in the division could meet any of the others in a good fight. Miles Shinkwin is still there although he lost to Joel, and he’s a dangerous fighter and will be wanting to get back in the mix. Potentially there’s a lot of opportunity, and come March 11 I’m going to put myself right in the mix.”

The Goodwin’s put on ‘Knuckle 2 Knuckle’ at the York Hall on Saturday March 11