Ipswich boxing star Fabio Wardley says he knows he's simply better than title rival Frazer Clarke - and he's proud to be representing Suffolk on the big stage.

Wardley (17-0, 16KO), defends his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles against Olympic bronze medallist Clarke (8-0, 6KO) at the O2 Arena on Easter Sunday night.

The huge domestic fight, which tops the bill at London's iconic arena, has been bubbling since last year, when Clarke pulled out of a mandated British title clash between the duo.

As a result, the collision has been branded 'Bad Blood', with the duo taking shots at each other via social media and in person during the build-up.

East Anglian Daily Times: Fabio Wardley, left, and Frazer Clarke, right, meet at the O2 Arena on SundayFabio Wardley, left, and Frazer Clarke, right, meet at the O2 Arena on Sunday (Image: PA Images)
"There’s something there, a little bit of needle," Wardley admitted. "We’ve both said our piece and had some choice words about each other, so there’s definitely something there, but not compared to my last fight (versus David Adeleye).

“As a fighter and a boxer overall, I do think he’s good. I’ve said it to him, the stuff he’s achieved in his amateur career is great, to have an Olympic bronze medal is a fantastic achievement.

“His professional career is left wanting at the moment, but he’s still moving along. I give him credit across the board, but I just think and know that I’m much better.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Frazer Clarke wore a Norwich City shirt at Portman Road in an attempt to get under Wardley's skin in the build-upFrazer Clarke wore a Norwich City shirt at Portman Road in an attempt to get under Wardley's skin in the build-up (Image: PA Images)
One of the narratives around the fight has been the comparative experience between the two - while Clarke, 32, was a decorated amateur boxer and Olympian, Ipswich star Wardley turned pro after just four white collar fights.

The 29-year-old power puncher has since amassed double the amount of knockouts as Clarke has total pro fights though, so is the experience argument a valid one? 

“I think the white collar v ABA boxer narrative that people are talking about is fair," Ipswich Town fan Wardley explained. "It’s not as simple as that, but it’s definitely a base to look at as a talking point.

“He’s definitely the more well-rounded boxer – I’m not ignorant to that – but I excel in more areas than him, and that’s been worth more in my fights, those extra skills have been more useful, and I’ll bring those through on the night.”

One thing which isn't up for debate is the fact that this is Clarke's first serious test in the paid ranks - and Wardley thinks that will also prove key.

East Anglian Daily Times: Fabio Wardley has knocked out 16 straight foesFabio Wardley has knocked out 16 straight foes (Image: PA Images)
"Yeah, massively," he insisted when asked if Clarke was walking into the fire for the first time. "That’s the thing, I’ve done it and that will give me a level of confidence.

“He’ll say he’s been through it in the amateurs, but that’s a different game entirely.

“Even things like this fight week itself, there’s pressure, more cameras on you, more questions, people trying to prod you, poke you – there’s just way more going on for you to deal with mentally, as well as training yourself physically for a fight.

“So there’s way more that goes into it when it’s a professional fight, and a pro fight of this magnitude.”

Sunday's big fight, live on Sky Sports, is the latest step in a remarkable career for former Chantry High School pupil Wardley, who's making history with each trip to the ring.

He's the first Suffolk boxer to headline the O2 Arena, our first British heavyweight king, and looks well on track to be our first world champion.

Inevitably, that has seen him inspire others to follow in his footsteps, with several of his stable mates at Martlesham's Suffolk Punch gym now forging their own pro careers - including Eilish Tierney, the county's first-ever professional female boxer.

East Anglian Daily Times: Fabio Wardley says he's proud to be blazing a trail for Suffolk boxersFabio Wardley says he's proud to be blazing a trail for Suffolk boxers (Image: PA Images)
"It’s great, that’s always what I’ve wanted," Wardley said. "My path into professional boxing wasn’t always the simplest or easiest.

“So to have trod the path and lead that path for other people to follow is up there with the top things that I’ve wanted to achieve.

“To be that person that other people can look at and go ‘right, I’m not the amateur this or that, or things aren’t going right – but Fab’s made a way.’

“So they may not follow my path exactly, but at least they can look at me and say ‘if he can do it, I can do it.’

“That’s something I’m really proud of and I care about , being the one that someone can look to."

East Anglian Daily Times: Suffolk's first pro female boxer Eilish Tierney says Wardley is a big help - and inspirationSuffolk's first pro female boxer Eilish Tierney says Wardley is a big help - and inspiration (Image: Ross Halls)
He continued: "It’s clear to see that I love my town, I love where I’m from and I love the area and everything about it.

“I appreciate and value where I’m from, where I grew up and where taught me everything I know.

“I’m proud to wear the Ipswich Town badge on my shorts on a global stage, on massive events on Sky, DAZN or TNT and take a little bit of Ipswich across the globe.

“Take it to Saudi Arabi, the O2, wherever – it’s big for me to be able to do that.”

So, how will Sunday's fight play out? Several opponents have tried to rush self-confessed slow starter Wardley early on, while others have attempted to draw him into a longer battle.

But ultimately 16 straight foes have been knocked out. And Wardley says Sunday will be no different.

East Anglian Daily Times: This is Wardley's second defence of the prestigious British titleThis is Wardley's second defence of the prestigious British title (Image: PA Images)
“Absolutely not,” he laughed, when asked if Clarke will hear the final bell. “I don’t know what their plan is. Guys have come after me early and the fight’s been finished up early for them.

“Then guys have been more patient about it and I’ve gone out and found them. Either way I’ve got an answer, so he can roll the dice however he wants, it doesn’t matter – the outcome is going to be the same.”

- You can watch Wardley v Clarke live on Sky Sports on Sunday, from 6.30pm. The main event should start between 9.30pm and 10.30pm.