Corby cruiserweight Simon Barclay is convinced he’s got what it takes to win the English championship next week.
The 26-year-old steps in to challenge Matty Askin for the St George’s belt in Liverpool a week on Saturday after Lawrence Bennett pulled out.
Barclay has had just two and a half weeks to prepare for the 10-round fight at the Echo Arena that promises to be the toughest of his ring career.
Askin is ranked five places above Barclay at number eight in the latest ‘Boxing News’ listings and took Ovill McKenzie to a majority points verdict for the British and Commonwealth titles last March.
Further back, Askin lasted 11 rounds with Krzysztof Glowacki, considered by many to be the world’s number one cruiserweight after he dethroned WBO champion Marco Huck last year.
For Askin, this will be his eighth championship fight and by comparison, Barclay is a novice.
He’s only had eight fights in his professional career, but has impressed and having studied Askin, Barclay is convinced he will beat the 27-year-old from Blackpool.
He said: “Askin is a big, strong lad who can box, but I definitely believe I can beat him.
“I have the edge in speed and work rate. He fights at a slow pace and I think if I stick to the game plan and don’t get drawn in, I will wear him down.”
Manager Jason McClory admits he wishes Barclay had more time to prepare, but added: “It’s not ideal for Askin either. He was expecting to face a southpaw (Bennett) and now he’s not.
“I know it’s a jump up in class for Simon, but I fully expect him to win.
“He has had world-class sparring and none of the world champions he’s sparred has ever said he was out of his depth.”
Barclay says the lack of notice isn’t a problem.
He said: “I’ve been in the gym non-stop since Christmas.
“I’ve had some good sparring over the last two or three weeks and that’s why I’ve been able to take this fight at short notice.
“I have got plenty of good rounds sparring under my belt and I’m feeling fit and sharp.”
The show in Liverpool is topped by Terry Flanagan defending his WBO lightweight title against Derry Mathews and also features Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Cuban ranked in the top 10 of every list of pound-for-pound fighters.
Rigondeaux is matched with British super-bantamweight champion Jazza Dickens.