MARK ALEXANDER is confident that he is in fighting shape ahead of his first defence of the BlackBeard Fight Series heavyweight title on September 30.

Alexander, 47, came out of retirement to stop Danny Walker and win the title in the main event at Strikers Night back in April.

The Slough star did not need persuading to make a second return to the ring and headline Strikers Night II at the Magnet Leisure Centre in Maidenhead where he will defend his crown against Javed Hanif from Crescent MMA, an opponent Alexander believes has already got a problem.

The veteran champion told the Observer: “I’m in fighting shape now. I am fitter than I was when I last fought and we’ve still got six weeks to go, so I’m hoping Nomaan Khalid (head coach) is going to take me to a different level along with Dan Gaut.

“Dan is a PowerBox Promotions [heavyweight] champion and has come in to offer his sparring services. That’s been a massive help to me, having heavyweight sparring every week.

“My early thoughts are my opponent has got a problem and I’m 100 per-cent more confident.

“If you ask Nomaan I’m a different beast altogether and my training is more crisp. I’ve stopped the weight training because I was a little bit muscle-bound last time, so we’ve tailored my training down to my fight.

VIDEO: Mark Alexander and Dan Gaut speak with Slough Observer ahead of Strikers Night II on September 30.

“And with Dan coming in, a big and very useful heavyweight fighter, it’s just sharpening me up, and we’ve still got weeks to go, so I’m feeling good.”

Looking back on his third-round win against Walker, the champion said: “The referee stopped it after I smashed his side up. He took a count in the second round as well.

“He unfortunately caught me quite badly in the first round. I was a little cocky and my hands were a little bit too low so he caught me a couple of times, but I got him out quick-time thereafter.

“We had most of Slough there and I was over the moon because it was my first fight in over five years after retiring the first time around.

“I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to but it was emotional and we celebrated pretty hard after that.

“You can’t beat the adrenaline rush you get from headlining a show, it’s something to savour.”

Tickets for the show in Maidenhead on September 30 are on sale now at £35 for adults and £25 for under-15s. To order tickets call 07415 230567.

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