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Fabio Wardley accuses Frazer Clarke of 'ducking him' ahead of all-British heavyweight clash at The O2

Watch Fabio Wardley vs Frazer Clarke - 'The Gloves Are Off' at 9.30pm on Sunday ahead of their British and Commonwealth heavyweight title fight at The O2 in London on Sunday March 31, live on Sky Sports

Fabio Wardley, Frazer Clarke
Image: Watch Fabio Wardley vs Frazer Clarke - The Gloves Are Off on Sky Sports at 9.30pm on Sunday

Fabio Wardley has accused Frazer Clarke of swerving him. Frazer Clarke, in turn, has promised to brutally defeat Fabio Wardley. If ever there was an indication that fight week was on the horizon. 

The heavyweight rivals have been embroiled in a mounting war of words as they prepare to meet at the O2 Arena for the British and Commonwealth titles next Sunday on March 31, live on Sky Sports.

It beckons as the toughest test to date for both men as they seek to breach a potential gateway to further high-profile stages and opponents.

Wardley has regularly been critical of Clarke after a potential fight between the pair failed to materialise last year, with the latter denying suggestions he pulled out.

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Johnny Nelson explains why Fabio Wardley versus Frazer Clarke reminds him of an 'old school' heavyweight fight

"Clear and honest - he didn't want it," said Wardley on The Gloves are Off on Sky Sports at 9.30pm on Sunday.

"He'll say he did and he'll say he was ready for it and he'd take it anytime and anywhere, but when the moment came he wasn't there and he didn't show up.

"I know he ducked me and it's fine, you can lay it out however you wish. You can say 'they didn't let me do it, I wasn't in control'.

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"If it's the case that he wasn't in control and it was the people above him and they made the decision for him, I know the fact of the situation and I know when a mandatory is made the only person who can sign that piece of paper to say they are withdrawing themselves is the fighter.

"Whether that's under instructions, maybe they told him to, and promised they'd get it for him later, but on that day when the phone rang and the board said 'are you taking this?' he said now."

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Ahead of the highly anticipated clash between Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke we look back through the Sky Sports archives at some of the best British heavyweight battles of all time

Wardley enters the fight 17-0 after extending his perfect record with a seventh-round stoppage victory over David Adeleye in Saudi Arabia last October.

Clarke meanwhile returns to action for the first time since forcing Dave Allen into a sixth-round retirement, having also beaten veteran Mariusz Wach via unanimous decisions in his first 10-rounder last June. The latter had been deemed valuable experience in Clarke's professional career, which sees him sit 8-0 since stepping up from the amateurs in 2021.

"The phone didn't ring, I didn't sign no paper, this came down to 'don't bite the hand that feeds you' sort of thing," said Clarke of suggestions he 'ducked' Wardley.

"There's no way I'd pull out. Give me a reason why I'd pull out a fight with you, because you blasted away 17 nobodies?

"You know I wasn't pulling out of that fight, other people were the power that be. I left the room distraught wanting to go and smash up a hotel room because I was basically being told.

"It was a bit naïve of me. If I knew what I know now, we would have fought already, but at the time I was new to the pros, a bit naïve. Was a blessing in disguise? It might have been. We're here now.

"People in boxing know what I'm about, they know I'm not ducking anybody, especially yourself."

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Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke face off on the Portman Road pitch ahead of their British and Commonwealth title bout

Wardley had made light of the situation on social media by drafting an image of promoter Ben Shalom pushing Clarke in a pram after their prospective fight failed to come to fruition in 2023.

Clarke was able to see the funny side of it, and suggested he might be plotting a response of his own should he prevail on Easter Sunday.

"Let's hope he's as good at fighting as he is at trolling people, he's a funny guy, but after March 31 maybe I learn a few techniques on the phone and start doing some trolling myself and have the last laugh," said Clarke.

"Your confidence will be what kills you."

Clarke admitted Wardley is likely to be viewed as the favourite due to his greater experience on the professional scene, but insisted it will not matter on fight night.

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Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke faced off in London ahead of their 'Bad Blood' showdown for the British and Commonwealth titles on March 31

"I'll punch his head in, I can out-box him, I can swing with him, I think he's banking on the fact he's got this heart and this punch power, but we've both got heart," said Clarke.

Wardley agreed with his status as favourite, insisting that he has made a more impressive transition to the pro circuit, despite Clarke's amateur pedigree.

"People judge it on what they see and what they've seen from me," he said.

"What we've seen from him is not a lot, due to his opponents, due to whatever situations have gone on, we've seen next to nothing from him in the professional ranks."

Frazer Clarke and Fabio Wardley will collide in a 'Bad Blood' showdown for the British and Commonwealth titles on Sunday March 31 at The O2 in London, live on Sky Sports; the flamboyant Ben Whittaker will feature on the undercard, as will Viddal Riley vs Mikael Lawal.

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