WHEN it comes to preparation, few are better equipped in this country than Blake Caparello.
The Greenvale-based southpaw continues to his ascension towards a second world title challenge in his home state tonight against late replacement Jordan Tai for WBA affiliated regional title honours.
Caparello (24-2-1, 8 KOs) will campaign in the light heavyweight division for the first time in almost three years, where he will work towards an eventual challenge at one of the two WBA titleholders, including regular champion Nathan Cleverly and unified titleholder Andre Ward.
Despite making the super middleweight limit for four of his last five fights, the 30-year-old admitted that the time was right to move back up.
“We just felt that the light heavyweight division suited me a bit better,” said Caparello in an interview with Aus-Boxing. “There were no dramas with my weight at super middleweight. I just feel that I am a bit stronger at the weight; I throw my punches a bit better at the weight, it was a team decision.”
“Last year I had the loss to Dirrell – it hurt a bit – no one likes losing. But I learnt from it and we have since moved on. I’ve since worked on things we needed to improve on.”
“I’ve taken the risks in the past, taken those opportunities and I wouldn’t change anything for the world,” he explained. “I got some great experience, those two losses I had I got great experience there. It’s all a great learning curve.”
“If I was to drop my head off the back of that, I may as well retire now. But I now know I can go with these guys; I’ve been in there. I’ve been in plenty of camps and trained with plenty of champions. Now it’s time to be smart about our decision making.”
Caparello was originally slated to fight former WBC light heavyweight title challenger and Russian native Dmitry Sukhotskiy. However, this changed just over a week ago when Sukhotskiy (23-5, 16 KOs) withdrew due to a back complaint.
Although this is far from ideal, Caparello is the first to acknowledge the frustrating nature of his situation, as he is now forced to face the New Zealand-based Jordan Tai (10-3, 9 KOs).
“It doesn’t put my plans out, at the end of the day whoever I have in front of me I have to beat them, I just need to make sure I win convincingly,” he stated. “The plan hasn’t changed. Obviously I would’ve liked to have fought Sukhotskiy, he was going to be a tough opponent.”
“But apparently his team wanted to postpone it and they have said he is still willing to fight. It doesn’t matter, it’s just another day in the office for me. So now my focus is on Jordan Tai – I have to get past him – these guys are dangerous.”
“They come in on eight days notice, so you know they are going to come in swinging and be unpredictable. So I need to make sure I’m on my game and not let anything slip. I never take anyone lightly. I’ve had that many different sparring partners and they are all different fighters.”
“At the end of the day, he is a different fighter then Sukhotskiy, but I am ready and can adapt to anyone. I’ve been training the house down, so it isn’t going to be an easy night for him.”
For this fight, Caparello and his team – including trainer Sam Labruna and co-manager Brendan Bourke – brought in former world title challenger Isaac Chilemba to help them prepare for Sukhotskiy. The opponent may have changed, but it’s quality work nonetheless for the Melburnian, who has sparred some of the best fighters in his division.
“Even though I haven’t fought this year I’ve have had some amazing camps with the likes of Eleider Alvarez and Cedric Agnew, we also worked with Damien Hooper and Mark Flanagan,” he said. “So we had numerous guys down and I felt I was improving my game all the time.”
“The sparring is just as important as the fights, I take a lot away from sparring – all the guys I have mentioned – they have been in there with the best. They all have had big amateur careers and are all great fighters. With those guys you have to be on point all the time.”
“You can’t slacken off mentally; they wont let you get away with it. If you get a bit sloppy, they will pick up on it. That’s what you want. You want tough sparring because it always makes you think and you are always working.”
To his credit, it’s a business as usual approach from Caparello. And it is that very same mentality that he will continue to use as he works his way back into title contention.
“I want to work myself into a mandatory position and get myself in line for a shot” he concluded. “In the past, I feel I’ve taken the risks fighting Dirrell and getting a shot at Kovalev.”
“Now I’m going to take my time, get into a mandatory position and whoever the champion is at the time, I want to be there and be ready for them.”
Photo: Marty Camilleri/Marty’s Knockout Photography