Lerrone Richards: De Carolis is my toughest test so far

Lerrone Richards has been after a test and he’s certainly got one on Saturday when he steps up in class to face former world title holder Giovanni De Carolis for the vacant European super-middleweight crown, as part of Matchroom Boxing’s latest offering on Sky Sports at the AO Arena in Manchester.

The championship credentials of Richards (14-0, 3 KOs) should be examined by De Carolis (28-9-1, 13 KOs) and it is a fact that is not escaping him. Yet the 28-year-old remains confident that he will have more than enough to come through on the night and feels he possesses the skillset to get past his Italian adversary on the way to bigger challenges in the 168lbs division.

“Sniper The Boss” told Boxing Social: “This is my hardest fight to date, on paper, without doubt. He’s a former WBA champion and he’s got a good pedigree, with bags of experience. This is going to be a real indicator of my level. I believe I’m European level now and beyond that, but I need to showcase the skills I’ve been learning in the gym.

“I’m expecting a hard night. I’ve heard a lot recently that I’m a big favourite but I’m not taking any of that seriously. I’m just focused on being the best I can be. This European title is very important to me. I’ve stressed all the way through my career that I had to learn at every level and, by winning this title, I do believe I will have completed my apprenticeship.”

In Richards’ last fight against Timo Laine (W8) he demonstrated that his new partnership with trainer Dave Coldwell was making positive strides and he will be hoping to build further on this platform with a much more capable opponent in De Carolis. It will be the South Londoner’s toughest assignment since a split decision victory over newly-crowned British and Commonwealth champion Lennox Clarke back in 2019.

The rivalry with Clarke has since been reignited by the Halesowen man, who has rose to prominence with a stunning upset of the highly-touted Willy Hutchinson to claim the British and Commonwealth titles, once held by Richards. Now Clarke has been very vocal regarding his plans to secure the rematch with Richards.

For Richards though, he is solely focused on De Carolis and has seen an opportunity for his star to perhaps shine brighter, following the unfortunate injury withdrawal of headliner Terri Harper from her scheduled world title unification with Hyun Mi Choi. Richards has plenty of sympathy for Harper but is keen to take his opportunity.

“Lennox was very impressive against Hutchinson. He did a really good job and I wish him well, as I do with Willy, who’s young and should bounce back,” said Richards. “Anything can happen in boxing, but it also has to make sense. I’m happy to fight Lennox again in the future and he’s doing a lot of talking. He’s looking above him, but refusing to fight anyone below him. Why shouldn’t it be the same for me, as that’s what he is doing to me?

“Saturday is a big chance for me to boost my name. It’s unfortunate that Terri had to pull out, as I’ve been training with her with our S&C trainer. I’ve seen first-hand how hard she’s been working, so I feel for her and hope her hand heals up. But for the fighters still on the card, there’s now more exposure for us and we have to take the opportunity that has been handed to us.”

It will also be a big chance for Richards to claim the most prestigious belt of his career so far and one he holds in very high esteem. Richards is looking to claim as many of the traditional belts along the way, emulating the path of some of the fighters who have influenced him.

“I made it clear a long time ago. One of my goals is to conquer Europe. I’m all about doing this the traditional way. The fighters I look up too like Darren Barker, James DeGale and George Groves won this belt, as did fighters who have been involved in my development in Ian Napa and James Cook. I saw what it meant to them and it will mean the same to me,” he said.

“Expect to see more of the same from me, as you did in my last performance. With some more spice thrown in. A stoppage would be a real statement, but that is not my focus. My record suggests I don’t punch hard but if the chance comes, I will take it. I’m firmly focused on De Carolis and I will get the job done and show what I’m all about.”

Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.