LEE Churcher says an

unexpected shot at the IBF European middleweight crown was something he had to take with both hands.

Newport’s Churcher will challenge Joe Mullender, who became English champion in June, for the vacant belt in London on Saturday, December 9.

The fight features on the same Copper Box Arena bill as Lee Selby’s IBF world featherweight title defence against Eduardo Ramirez.

Selby’s St Joseph’s stablemate Craig Evans, the reigning WBO European lightweight king, is also in action in an eight-round international contest.

For Churcher, the clash with 31-year-old Mullender is going to be his first since leaving St Joes in Newport.

Churcher, who turned 37 on Tuesday, will now have Newbridge’s former world champion Gavin Rees in his corner after making the decision to switch gyms.

Training at Rees’ Pantside ABC along with fledgling pro Kody Davies, former Welsh and British Masters champion Churcher says the move was an amicable one.

And just weeks after linking up with Rees, the veteran fighter can’t wait to go toe-to-toe with Mullender on the Frank Warren promotion.

“I don’t know if someone else pulled out of the fight but I’ve only had four weeks’ notice – my opponent has had three months to prepare for it,” he said.

“But it's a fight I had to take and I can’t wait to get it on. I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s a big platform for me to fight on, it’s on television, and I just want to put on a show.”

On changing gyms, he added: “It’s been going really well since I joined.

“There was nothing wrong with St Joes, it’s just that it’s only me and Kody with Gavin so he can give us more time.

“I first went to St Joes when I was 12 so it was part of my life for 25 years and I can’t thank Tony Borg and everyone there enough.

“Me and Tony are still on good terms and it was all very amicable between us.”

Meanwhile, Newport’s Dan Barton will take on Geraint Goodridge in an all-Welsh super-middleweight bout at the Sanigar Events show in Merthyr Tydfil on Friday, December 15.