Fabio Wardley says sparring with Frazer Clarke told him nothing

Fabio Wardley says sparring with Frazer Clarke told him nothing

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By Fabio Wardley

I NEVER allow myself to think about how far I’ve come but what I do know is that it has been a wild ride. Sunday night is my seventh fight at the O2 Arena and my first time headlining there in 18 fights.

It’s funny because when I first started out in my career I always felt I’d be lucky to box at the O2 once, somewhere down the bottom of the card, for a Southern Area or English title in one last go, at the back end of my career. But it has turned out that the O2 is the venue where I’ve boxed the most and now I’m top of the bill.

I started on small hall shows so nobody I was around was really boxing on big shows at the O2. I felt like that was the trajectory I was on and to break out of that would be quite difficult. I had accepted that’s where I was and that was probably where I would get to. But at that point, I felt that if I did get to there, just for one fight, I would have been over the moon with that. It has got much bigger than I could ever have imagined.

But I stay away from too much reflection. I usually allow myself a little pat on the back immediately after the fight, but I try to stay away from getting lost in it too much. There’s a fine balance between appreciating what you’re doing in the moment and not getting caught up in thinking ‘look at me, I’m the big I am’.

This time it’s Frazer Clarke in front of me and, given I beat David Adeleye last time out, it means I’m going straight from one grudge match to another and that’s definitely something I thrive on.

I learned huge amounts from the Adeleye build-up. I’d already had a rivalry with Nathan Gorman before where there was a bit of bite, but it had stayed relatively respectful and low-key. But with Adeleye it took a bit of a turn and there was a different element to it all. It definitely prepares you in a different way when it comes to managing your emotions and your feelings through that. It teaches you to stay laser focused and not get sucked into all the fuss and the hype around it. That can be distracting, especially on a show as big as this. It teaches you to keep a level head.

I’ve had the schedule through for fight week and it’s pretty busy and hectic and being the main event on the card there are different demands on you. As well as the emotion of the fight itself there are also things you have to contend with and manage. The fact this is my third big all-British fight in my last four means I have learned how to deal with all that properly.

Me and Clarke have done our media obligations together but other than that we haven’t mixed much. We sparred six rounds in the past, but we didn’t go for dinner afterwards or anything. We’ve crossed paths casually a few times too. That spar was about a year ago but how much do you really know from a spar? I’m not ignorant enough to take that as gospel on how he is going to fight. Anything could have changed since then.

You never go full-whack in a spar anyway – well I definitely wasn’t that day – because there is always an undertone that you will probably fight for real one day. You have a look, you feel around a bit, and see what’s there. I’m sure he was probably doing the same.

I’ve been working with Ben Davison for a good two or three years now and it has been amazing to see the progression. It felt like a hidden secret between me, Leigh Wood and some of the other boys there about just how good Ben and his team are. For them to be getting the plaudits outwardly now is great to see. I don’t see much of Anthony Joshua though because we are in at different times – no sparring yet. I’m not much like Otto Wallin or Francis Ngannou to be fair.

It is definitely a winning place at the moment and success breeds success. Now it’s my turn to go out there and do my job on Easter Sunday.

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