‘The title will definitely be in the near future’ - Heavyweight prospect Wardley on his next fight, title hopes and sparring Usyk
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Ipswich heavyweight hope Fabio Wardley is ready for the toughest fight of his career on Friday night – and expects it to set him up for his first title tilt in the summer.
The heavy-handed 24-year-old is set to face Dennis Lewandowski (13-3, 6KO) at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, live on Sky Sports, on a show promoted by boxing behemoth Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom powerhouse.
While unbeaten Wardley has finished five of his six career opponents inside the distance, including a one-round demolition of Morgan Dessaux at the O2 Arena back in February, he expects Lewandowski, a former foe of Tyson Fury's next opponent Tom Schwarz, to pose a sterner test.
"He's tough and durable," Wardley said of the German 25-year-old. "He's had about three or four ten rounders and he's never been stopped. He should be a good fight and a nice test for me. The main thing is to get more experience under my belt.
"A good night's work for me would be to get a good few rounds where I'm challenged and pushed, and I can test myself and show off a bit more of what I can do - I haven't had that chance yet.
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"But then of course I want to get him out of there and have my hand raised!"
With a win here, Wardley expects his next fight to be for the Southern Area heavyweight title, potentially on the undercard of his manager Dillian Whyte's much-anticipated tussle with Oscar Rivas at the O2 on July 20.
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Wardley explained: "The title will definitely be in the near future, the next couple of months - we're just trying to line it up now.
"There's a possibility that it might be on the Dillian undercard, it all depends who is available."
Wardley's rise to prominence has been rapid - having previously boxed on relatively small shows in Norwich and Ipswich, this will be his third straight big arena event since signing with Whyte, something he's trying to take in his stride.
"I guess it's starting to feel a bit more comfortable," he laughed. "You have to take it in your stride, behave like you belong there and own it.
"It's just a great opportunity for me and I want to grab it with both hands."
While Wardley has no amateur pedigree, having come to the pro game through the white collar route, it's hard to find another young heavyweight who has had the quality of sparring he's enjoyed - the former Chantry High pupil has shared the ring with lineal heavyweight king Fury, former undisputed cruiserweight ruler Oleksandr Usyk, Whyte, world-title challenger Dereck Chisora, ex-British champ Sam Sexton and red hot prospect Daniel DuBois.
Indeed, he's recently spent a second stint out in the Ukraine with Usyk, as the pound-for-pound contender prepared for his heavyweight debut, which has since been pushed back because of injury.
For Wardley, it was an invaluable opportunity to learn from the best.
"There's just lots of little things that I pay attention to when I'm out there," he explained. "Just stuff like how they warm up and how they train - there's so much you can pick and use in your camps.
"Technically, Usyk is something else. You have to be switched on 24/7 when you're in there with him. Usually with heavyweights they have little rest periods in rounds, but he just doesn't - he likes to put in on you and for you to test him. If you make a mistake then you're going to pay for it!
"Him moving to heavyweight won't be a problem because he knows what he's doing and he knows his style - that will trouble other people in the division.
"He's never had massive one-punch KO power, but he's so good at hitting you clean with multiple shots and they add up!"
Someone who definitely does have big one punch power is the aforementioned DuBois, who recently won a four round shootout with Richard Lartey and looks to be moving towards a British title showdown with fellow super prospect Joe Joyce.
And though Wardley is a little behind those two in terms of stature in the sport, he admits that he keeps an eye on all his potential future foes.
"You have to pay attention to everyone in the division," he said. "I just need to keep an eye on them and see how they're progressing, so I have that wealth of knowledge in my head for when I need it.
"I think DuBois v Joyce is a great fight. If Daniel can get him out of there in the first five or six rounds then it's his, but if not I fancy Joyce to take it - he's a machine in the later rounds.
"With those two and Nathan Gorman as well, there's a lot going on - it just makes the whole British heavyweight scene really exciting."