NEWBRIDGE boxer Bradley Pryce has been handed an unexpected shot at a return to the big time.
The 32-year old has stepped in to face European champion Sergey Rabchenko in Bulgaria on Saturday night in a contest for the Belarusian’s light middleweight title.
Rabchenko, who beat Pryce in 2011 at the Deeside Leisure Centre and is undefeated in 24 contests and has a notable victory over Ryan Rhodes on his record, was scheduled to face French-based Cedric Vitu (36-2).
However, Vitu has a wrist injury and by virtue of being ranked in the top 20 by the EBU, Pryce has received this unexpected chance to return to the big stage.
Pryce has won 34 of his 48 fights, but six of his 14 losses have come in his last nine outings.
However, fully focused and with nothing to lose, Pryce is being tipped to cause an upset by trainer Jamie Arthur.
The Cwmbran-based former Commonwealth Games gold medallist travels with Pryce to the foothills of the Balkan Mountains to the town of Tratsa as Pryce bids to add to the Commonwealth title he held at light middle.
“It’s a brilliant chance for Bradley and one that we felt ultimately, we couldn’t turn down,” Arthur told the Argus.
“It’s a great opportunity for Bradley and he’s ready for it, very motivated and very fit because we’ve been trying to take him down to welterweight.
“We’ve wanted to get a crack at Frankie Gavin, but the chance to go down the European route is enticing.”
Arthur doesn’t think Pryce needs to look very far to find inspiration.
“Just look at Kerry Hope,” he said. “No one expected Kerry to win a European title, but he did so and shocked everyone in boxing.”
Hope, a former stablemate of Pryce’s at the Team Calzaghe gym, beat undefeated champion Grzegorz Proksa last year despite accepting the fight as just a month’s notice. He was a massive outsider with the bookies.
“Kerry did it, upsets happen in this sport all the time and Bradley has a big chance, I believe that,” Arthur said.
“This is a televised bill (live and exclusive on BoxNation) and it is great exposure for Bradley.
“He’s been a terrific servant to boxing and it feels like he’s been around for a lifetime, he’s dreaming big and believes he can win on Saturday and I do as well.
Hatton Promotions international matchmaker Philipe Fondu said: "Rabchenko has beaten Pryce before but he cannot afford to think this will be easy. Pryce is coming from Wales to grab the titles and put his name back among the best in the division."