May 10, 2023 is a date Frazer Clarke would rather forget.
The unbeaten heavyweight had looked set to get a British title shot against domestic rival Fabio Wardley, and the back and forth between the pair on social media had only added some extra spice to their imminent clash.
Then, the chance was taken away from him. Just minutes before purse bids were due to take place, Clarke’s promotional company BOXXER pulled him out, claiming they wanted their fighter to gain more experience before facing Wardley.
Three months on, Clarke has had time to process everything that happened, and admits he made mistakes in handling the situation, while revealing that he went through some dark moments in the immediate aftermath.
Frazer Clarke (pictured) has admitted he did not handle criticism from fans for not fighting Fabio Wardley well at first
Clarke was pulled out of purse bids to fight Wardley (pictured) just minutes before they were due to take place
‘At first, I don’t think I handled it very well at all,’ Clarke explained to Mail Sport.
‘I was biting back, I was screenshotting people’s profile pictures and hoping to see them at a boxing show, probably stick a left hook on them! And that’s definitely not the way.
‘I can’t lie, with the Fabio Wardley situation, there was a period of 10 days where I was in training camp and I wasn’t great. I couldn’t concentrate on my sessions. I was finishing sessions, I was going to a dark room and I was staying there. I was literally turning my phone off because every time I opened it I had thousands of messages of abuse being hurled at me.
‘It’s not nice for anyone, it doesn’t matter how tough you are as a person, no one wants to see bad stuff written about them, it’s just human nature. And I’m no different to anyone else.’
Clarke received some backlash in the early stages of his professional career for the quality of his opposition, but the criticism he faced for not fighting Wardley reached a new level altogether.
He believes he has now come through a ‘difficult period’, though, and is convinced he will be better for the experience both inside and outside the ring.
‘I’ve come out of it the other side, I’ve come out of it really positive actually. I think I’m a better fighter, a tougher individual, and I think it’s put me in good stead going forward for difficult situations,’ he said.
‘When I broke it down, I know what I am. I’m not the best fighter God’s ever graced on Earth, but I’m an honest, competitive man and I know I’ve got the talent and I work hard enough, so all of that together will take me to where I want to get.
Clarke believes he has learned a lot from the Wardley situation, and is now a better person and a better fighter
‘It was a difficult period and there were times where I was getting frustrated but I weathered the storm and I had good people around me.’
And what about the Wardley fight? Does he still see that clash happening or will he now take a different route?
Clarke’s answer was definitive.
‘I think it will (happen) and I think it should. I know he’s the champion but I think he should want the fight as much as I want the fight because he might not want to admit this but his name has never been so popular as when it was associated to mine,’ he added.
‘He was on the tip of everyone’s tongue for one reason or another. I think it would be a great fight for both of us, and hopefully one day we can get that on.
‘Even though that was a bad situation, it’s laid the foundations for a very good British rivalry at heavyweight. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone loves that. People have a soft spot, or a sweet tooth shall we say, for two British heavyweights that don’t particularly like each other and they want to fight each other. I think it will become a bigger fight.’
Before he can turn his attention to Wardley once more, Clarke must first get past domestic foe Dave Allen when the pair meet on the undercard of Liam Smith’s rematch with Chris Eubank Jr on September 2.
Clarke is looking to build momentum after picking up a points decision victory over former world title challenger Mariusz Wach just weeks after the Wardley fight failed to materialise.
He expects to be tested by Allen after finding the Wach bout ‘so easy’, as he looks to continue his development and put himself firmly in the frame to finally face Wardley in the near future.
Clarke is due to fight on the undercard of the Liam Smith-Chris Eubank Jr rematch next month
He is due to face Dave Allen (pictured), and expects to be tested by his domestic rival
Reflecting on his performance against Wach, Clarke admitted: ‘It wasn’t a statement. But if you know boxing and you watch boxing, you can see there’s glimpses of good stuff in there.
‘I handled him at a canter for someone who’s so experienced. If you look at the fights he’s had with other people, he gave Dillian Whyte hell. He gave a few really good fighters real tricky nights, and to be honest, I did it at a canter at about 50-60 per cent. So I’m not sure there’s too much of a message to be sent, I just know my level and I know that was so easy.
‘Dave’s come with a real appetite, I’m not sure how much appetite Mariusz had, to be honest. He came to compete but I’m not sure he was there to win, and I know Dave’s definitely there to upset the applecart and win.
‘I think it’s a challenge, and I think that’s what I need. It’s still a fight where I’m able to learn and develop a few things about myself, but I hope with the right performance that I can progress and get a lot out of it.’