Frazer Clarke and Joe Joyce are on a collision course once again.
The two had a long-standing rivalry as amateur boxers. They boxed one another four times and spent years as team-mates and sparring partners on the GB squad.
But Clarke has never beaten him. He wants to try to rectify that as a professional. Clarke wants “redemption”.
“I’m not naïve to it. Joe is in the world-class bracket. I’m an up-and-coming fighter, a prospect,” Clarke told Sky Sports.
“But what I will say is I always think of boxing as a fan and I know when me and Joe Joyce get in the ring, whether that’s with big 18oz gloves on and a headguard or little gloves, it’s exciting.
“I can’t lie. Would I love my chance at redemption one day? When I get to that level, absolutely. I think it would be a curse to British boxing, almost as bad as Fury and AJ not fighting each other, if me and Joe don’t trade leather one more time for the British public.”
Joyce looked formidable when he battered down Joseph Parker last weekend, knocking out the former world champion in 11 rounds.
Clarke knows that Joyce, for him, would be the ultimate test.
“I don’t beat Joe Joyce unless I’m the best version of myself yet. I’d have to be better than I’d ever been to beat Joe Joyce in a fight. That’s without a doubt,” he said.
“I’ve got to get better, physically, mentally, boxing-wise. When I watched that fight with Parker the other day, I took a lot of confidence from it. I think what people don’t know about me is I’m as cunning as a fox.
“I’m older than my years, I know how to kill 30 seconds I know how to hit you. I know how to hold you. I know how to run the clock down. So it’ll be interesting.”
While Joyce is “tough, strong, can take a hell of a shot and very relentless,” Clarke thinks, “his actual boxing IQ and skills seem to be a lot better. He was patient when he had to be, when he had to put pressure on, he put the pressure on.
“He seems to be improving… He’s getting savvy.”
While Joyce has just turned 37, he’s not likely to disappear from the heavyweight scene for some time. “He’s training at the UFC facility in Las Vegas, they have the best physios, the best dieticians. He’s a well-oiled machine. He’s like a Bentley,” Clarke said of Joyce. “When you lift the bonnet up, it’s prestige.”
Clarke at 31 is young in comparison. “If you’d seen me on that track before, going round like a gazelle, they wouldn’t be judging my age at all, let me tell you,” he added cheerfully.
He also boxed Parker as an amateur and is looking forward to working his way up the pro ranks towards these high-level boxers.
“I thrive off competition, these guys thrive off competition. Once I’m knocking at the door. I’m pretty sure they’re both answering,” he said. “I need to earn my stripes.
“Fight by fight I’m doing that.”
The next step in Clarke’s career comes on November 12 in Manchester when he will box Kamil Sokolowski, renowned as one of the toughest journeymen on the circuit.
The Pole does spring the occasional upset. He beat prospect George Fox and for many was unlucky to lose to David Adeleye. “With the greatest respect I think it’s chalk and cheese,” Clarke said.
“When you put my name with David Adeleye and George Fox, with my experience as an amateur and fighting all different people around the world, compared to them two that have boxed in the London region [as amateurs], it’s chalk and cheese.”
Viktor Vykhryst, an elite amateur who boxed Clarke in the final of the European championships, went the distance with Sokolowski. “Hit him with everything and he was still there so I’m expecting a real tough night,” Clarke said. “I just relish the chance to show my skills off.
“I’ve got so much more to offer, so much to show, I think Sokolowski is definitely the opponent to bring that out of me.”
In his last bout, Clarke had barely got going when Pencho Tsvetkov folded in scarcely a minute.
“On the night I was upset,” Clarke explained. “It was just another experience.
“The opponent was 7-0 with five KOs,” he continued. “That’s why the first shot I really stuck in there because you’ve got to get their respect early on.
“I was just doing what I’ve learned over the years, jab down the middle and then let him know that you mean business. Unfortunately, that was all she wrote.”
Clarke is a well-liked character who intends to provide excitement when he boxes. It’s prompted his promoter Ben Shalom to describe him as ‘the heavyweight Ricky Hatton’.
“The numbers that he does, despite who he’s been in the ring with so far, are huge. He’s a very popular figure already,” Shalom said of Clarke.
“We see him almost as the Ricky Hatton of the heavyweight division. He’s a working-class man, everyone can relate to him. He’s a people’s champion and Ricky’s one of his heroes.
“Frazer Clarke I think is going to be a superstar in British boxing. We can’t wait to get him out November 12 against Kamil Sokolowski.”
At the Manchester Arena on November 12 after the BOXXER-promoted fight card featuring Clarke, a separate show with Ricky Hatton in an exhibition against Marco Antonio Barrera will also be held and broadcast on Sky Sports.
“I always try and stay grounded, I like to entertain, I like to fight. People seem to like to watch me, they like to speak to me about it. I don’t want that to ever change,” Clarke said. “I’ll never think I’m better than anyone.
“The biggest comparison [with Hatton] you could probably share with us is we both like a Guinness,” he added.
“Who knows maybe even on November 12 when we’re both victorious we’ll share a Guinness, get that ticked off the bucket list, and have a nice chat about Only Fools and Horses. That would be some night.”