BY RICHARD CAWLEY
email@example.com Craig Richards has questioned Jake Ball’s courage ahead of the pair fighting at Greenwich’s 02 Arena on February 2.
Crystal Palace’s Richards – nicknamed Spider – had been due to box the Surrey light-heavyweight in October.
But Ball (12-1) pulled out on the week of the show – posting pictures of a hand injury on social media.
Now the South Londoner is set to get a crack at winning the WBA continental heavyweight title at the start of next month.
“I’ve lost a lot of respect for Jake,” said Richards. “The whole saga has been very frustrating. I just want to get the win and move on with my career. This has been dragging on for several months now and it’s time to put an end to it on February 2.
“All of his silly excuses, all of the delays and rearranged dates – it’s become a hindrance on my career and he’s wasting my time. We’ve become a bit of a comedy act and it’s something that I need to get away from. I’m desperate to beat him and look forward to a big 2019.
“He’s been holding me up for too long now. We tried to reschedule it for December 22, but it never happened because Dominic Ingle [Ball’s trainer] couldn’t be in his corner as he was already busy. There’s been a lot of excuses – but there won’t be anywhere to hide next month.
“I’m on a mission. I’m hungry and I want to progress. I’m not sure if Jake shares the same passion and hunger as me. Maybe that’s why he’s messed me around for so long. It’s important for me to channel this frustration properly in the gym and on the night.”
The 28-year-old believes a win over Ball will earn him more title opportunities in the division and says he is feeling the benefits of moving up to the 175lbs limit.]
Richards’ sole reverse in 14 bouts – all the others victories – was dropping a unanimous decision to then British champion Frank Buglioni in October 2017.
Richards said: “This year it’s all about big competitive fights and pushing myself to challenge for more titles. Everything has started to come together nicely and the time for me is now.
“I’m back at my natural weight and it’s showing in all aspects of my game.
“I’m punching with a lot more power in sparring and I’m much more energetic outside of the gym. I’ve got a spring in my step and I’m excited about boxing again.”
Ball said: “I’ve been training well and preparing hard for it. The actions that I’ll show on February 2 will speak louder than any words that I can say.
“I respect Craig and I know he’s a good fighter, but he isn’t as good as me and it’s as simple as that. Come fight night, I’ll show it. I’m not afraid of any man.
“When I fight Craig in February, I’ll be 100 per cent fit and ready. I pulled out through injury, it’s not as if I had another fight lined up.”
February’s show will be live on Sky Sports.
Picture Credit: Mark Robinson