From ringside security to title challenger, Frazer Clarke says Fabio Wardley fight is the beginning of another classic rivalry



Fabio Wardley vs Frazer Clarke
Wardley’s British and Commonwealth belts are on the line on Sunday (Picture: Getty)

Frazer Clarke has already experienced first-hand the blood and thunder of a British heavyweight title fight.

His big night against Fabio Wardley looms large on Easter Sunday at the O2 Arena, the culmination of a rivalry that promises to be the latest in a long line of memorable domestic dust-ups in boxing’s blue-riband division.

It conjures memories of the 2015 war between Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, who brawled for the same British and Commonwealth belts that are on the line this weekend. That night, Clarke was working as a ringside security guard, jumping into the ring as Joshua and Whyte kept swinging after bell at the end of the first round to help separate the two giants.

Clarke now finds himself on that same stage, having returned from the Tokyo Olympics with a bronze medal three years ago with eight fights and eight wins under his belt as a professional.

Many before him have used the British title as a springboard to greater things. Lennox Lewis, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury all collected that belt before becoming world champions with each of those greats winning it in their 15th professional fight.

Should he walk away as the winner this weekend, Clarke will make history, winning it in the fewest number of fights.

Wardley, the more experienced fighter who also won the British belt in fight no15 after blasting through Nathan Gorman in 2022, is adamant this test is coming too soon for Clarke.

Frazer Clarke during Anthony Joshua vs DIllian Whyte
Clarke was peacemaker when it kicked off at the O2 nine years ago (Picture: Getty)

The champion has knocked out 16 of his 17 opponents to date, having made the lesser-known transition from white-collar boxing to the professional game in thrilling fashion.

At 32, Clarke possesses the more traditional boxing background, a decorated amateur who has long, hard miles on the road already behind him. Regardless of how they got here, the challenger has no doubts over what will unfold on Sunday night.

Fabio Wardley vs Frazer Clarke
Clarke, like Wardley, is undefeated heading into Sunday’s bout (Picture: Getty)

‘I have his number in every department,’ Clarke told Metro.co.uk. ‘Both in being able to thrive on these stages and in the ring. If the best version of both of us turns up, I believe I am the better fighter and it is that simple.

‘We have very different boxing backgrounds, but this is two people trying to punch the other in the face. No matter how you butter it up, it’s the same – I hit him more than he hits me. One round, 10 rounds, 100 rounds, it doesn’t matter.’

While it will be no mean feat, Clarke insists becoming British champion in a quicker fashion than Joshua, Fury and Lewis managed is a small and inconsequential footnote heading into fight night.

Fabio Wardley vs Frazer Clarke
Wardley knocked out another Briton in David Adeleye to defend his titles last year (Picture: Getty)

‘It’s not relevant if I’m honest,’ Clarke said. ‘I haven’t thought about it like that. It is a statistic for the journalists, for everyone else. But not for me. I have had eight professional fights but if we look at my career, the competition I have fought against in the amateurs, I feel like I am in my 16th or 17th pro fight. It sounds good on paper for sure. But it has no meaning for me.’

The compelling rivalry between Clarke and Wardley intensified last summer when the British Boxing Board of Control originally ordered this fight to take place.

However, Clarke’s promoter Ben Shalom opted to pull his fighter out of the contest before purse bids could take place. While Shalom at BOXXER caught most of the flak, Clarke was also questioned with Wardley using the saga as ammunition ever since.

Fabio Wardley vs Frazer Clarke
Clarke coming for Wardley’s titles (Picture: Getty)

While the British title, which so often draws the very best out of fighters from these shores, is on the line, fighting for pride is an enormous factor for Clarke after the last 12 months.

‘It has been a sacrifice, but I don’t think for one second I am alone doing that,’ he said. ‘Fabio hasn’t been at home on the sofa during that time, he has doing the same as me. I believe this is what the British title brings out of people. Of course, it is hugely about the titles, but this is a massive pride thing.

‘As a man and as a fighter, pride is right up there for reasons why I fight and why I have to win. I know Fabio is a proud man too. When I look at him, I don’t see a coward. It is not personal like that. I like his attitude towards boxing and life, to be honest. But I am very much the same and I know this is something I have to do.’

Fabio Wardley vs Frazer Clarke
Clarke says the two will meet again in a world title fight (Picture: Getty)

In the same way Joshua and Whyte used their bitter feud to catapult them into bigger and better things, Clarke and Wardley can do the same with world titles in the sights of both men.

After that wild scrap in 2015, Joshua and Whyte remained part of the other man’s story in the years that followed with a long-awaited rematch almost delivered last year.

While Sunday’s loser may have to briefly retreat and regroup, Clarke sees himself and Wardley being dance partners again beyond Sunday night, sharing a rivalry that can become another British classic for years to come.

‘I believe I win the fight, but I believe Fabio has a massive future in this division,’ Clarke said.

‘I also believe that this is just the start of me and Fabio. Neither of us are going anywhere. Eventually we will get to fighting each other for a world title in this country, whether it’s in two, three, four years, whatever.  I beat him on Sunday, but he is made of the right stuff and he’ll come back. We will be seeing each other again.

‘This is bigger than anything I have ever experienced but I always knew this was coming.  Now it’s here, I am glad I have got the experience I have as a boxer, as a security guard, and as a fan. All of them have helped them get me where I am today.’

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