THE BLACKPOOL FIGHT SCENE IS SET FOR A HUGE THRILL -
Jack Arnfield versus Brian Rose are to clash in a contest of endless fascination.
Long-standing friendship between the pair will be put on hold when the one-time sparring partners and gym-mates meet in March. But the biggest local derby in the history of boxing in Blackpool will not take place in the town - the showdown will happen at the Manchester Arena on March 25.
At stake will be the World Boxing Association international middleweight title that Arnfield defended against Mick Hall at Preston Guild Hall on Saturday night.
Both agreed to the fight when promoter Eddie Hearn made an offer for a match-up that promises to split the Fylde fight fraternity straight down the middle. Arnfield, four years younger at 27 than his rival is confident he will have the upper hand in this intriguing match-up. He said: â€śI am going to win the fight, 100 per cent. We must have done hundreds of rounds together and the sparring sessions have been very close and I did have his number. â€śI have the edge - I used to be in the same gym as Brian, but since I left and joined Michael and Dave Jennings, I have worked hard and improved. â€śI must have trained with Brian for 13 or 14 years, and it is a great fight for me because a win would mean that I improve my WBA rating,â€ť the Stalmine fighter said.
The mega-fight with Rose means that Arnfieldâ€™s British middleweight title eliminator with Elliott Matthews scheduled for the spring has had to be put off - but Arnfield says he will continue to pursue his Lonsdale Belt ambitions.
Rose said: â€śPeople may say that I am now past my best, but I regard this as my second-coming. There are reasons why I have not been at my best in recent fights, like the (loss against) Matthew Macklin. â€śI virtually lived with Jack for five years and we trained together for a long time. I am Jackâ€™s friend, but that does not matter. Itâ€™s not about friendship, but doing it to provide for my family. Jack will obviously think he can beat me at this stage of my career, but then I would not be taking this fight if I did not believe that I was going to win it.â€ť
The bout is on the under-card of the world lightweight title fight between Anthony Crolla and Jorge Linares.