There's a job for life at Maree Boxing for ex-Commonwealth champion
Kevin Maree has assured Luke Blackledge that there will always be a place for him on his team, regardless of what his future holds in boxing.
The pair were expected to sit down for talks to discuss the next step in the 30-year-old’s career following a one-sided loss at the hands of Lewis Edmondson at Bolton Whites Hotel.
The former Commonwealth champion, who had defended his crown against Ishmael Tetteh at the venue eight years ago, retired on his stool ahead of the fourth round on his return to action.
Blackledge had been inactive for 18 months following defeat to Denis Radovan at the O2 Arena, which was his third setback on the bounce.
“We’ll give him a chance to catch his breath but, whatever happens, I’ve always promised to look after him, even if he retires from boxing tomorrow,” said Maree.
“We will definitely find him a role within the sport. We’re not the kind of team that forgets about our fighters when they leave us because they’ll always be a part of what we’ve achieved.
“His health comes first and then we’ll do whatever we can to look after him. There’ll always be a role for Luke in boxing because he has so much knowledge and experience. This is all he knows.”
The super-middleweight fighter never backed down from a challenge in his pomp. He would lock horns with anyone, anywhere.
After going 14 unbeaten at the start of his career, he lost a close decision to Erik Skoglund at Arena Nord in Denmark.
Blackledge jumped in with the dangerous Rocky Fielding at short notice and survived 10 rounds with ex-WBA (Super) World champion Callum Smith.
Maree said: “We can’t just tell him that it’s all over after one poor performance.
“We have to have something in place, a different route perhaps.
“But we won’t just pull the plug on Luke after the career he’s had.
“We know this is a different stage in Luke’s career. The days where he was fighting for titles are long gone. He has to drop a level if he wants to stay active.
“Luke trusts me and he knows that I have his best interests at heart.
“We got him out before he got hurt last time out, but now we need to consider our next move.
“I know he loves boxing, he wants to carry on in the sport and travel around the country, but that can only happen if he’s fit and well.
“I’ve got my own thoughts on the matter, but I’ve got to sit down and discuss them with Luke first.”