China Clarke will be happy to send Matty Askin into retirement in Blackpool
By Adam Norman. Last Updated: April 20, 2013 8:41pm
China Clarke (L) gets the better of Wadi Camacho in a breakthrough fight at Wembley (Pic Lawrence Lustig)
China Clarke will be looking to burst another bubble when he takes on Matty Askin in Blackpool on Saturday night.
The Leeds cruiserweight defends his English title against a man who was a highly-regarded prospect before suffering two defeats in his last three fights.
But while Askin has threatened to quit the sport at 24 if he loses to a man 10 years his senior, Clarke believes his opponent is playing mind games.
"I can see why he's doing it, he's trying to encourage himself and it's added motivation for him to win the fight," he told Sky Sports. "But I'm ready to send him into retirement if that's what he wants!
"I like being a road warrior - I beat Wadi Camacho in Wembley and I beat Mitchell Balker in London as well. We're all hungry in the cruiserweight division and I'm no different."
Clarke walked away from the sport at a young age but has been focused since returning 10 years ago and while it was a further six years before he turned pro, the 34-year-old believes he is finally reaping the benefits of his hard work.
"It's only because I'm improving that i'm in the game, and it shows me that if I can do this much in five years what can I do in another few?" he said.
"I'm a completely different fighter to when I came back to the sport again when I was 24. I'd lost that sharpness I had and it takes a long time to re-discover that, but it started coming naturally again about a year ago and now I'm combining skill with the aggression I used to have.
"I've stayed under the radar so I can develop my skills but I set myself a long term plan and I'm mentally ready now for what lies ahead. I knew it would take me a good six or seven years to starting earning what I want from the sport and it's all part of the plan.
"This fight comes at the perfect time for me, to be honest a year ago it would have been too soon. His style should suit mine and anyone who comes along in the division I'm prepared to say 'bring it on'.
"There are no really easy fights at this weight so it's a quick learning process and now I'm at that stage where I'm ready for these type of fights.
"I'm honest about my own ability and I don't want to look too far ahead, but obviously I'm English champion now and the British title is an obvious target."
Watch China Clarke vs Matty Askin live on Sky Sports 1 behind the red button from 6pm in Blackpool this Saturday.