Blake Minto to fight Queenslander Kurt Finlayson at Wests City on July 20

WORLD Boxing Foundation super lightweight champion Blake Minto knows he must make some changes for his next fight.

For starters, the Toronto boxer will step up a weight division to fight Queenslander Kurt Finlayson in the non-title bout in Newcastle on Friday, July 20.

Fighting at the welterweight limit isn’t the only change that Minto will face in what will be his first bout since he won the world title from Argentinian southpaw Sergio Gonzalez in a gruelling 12-rounder in March.

His next fight is over just six rounds.

And at first glance, that would appear to negate some of Minto’s strengths – his fitness, his resilience, and his ability to finish the stronger when fights go deep.

“Yeah, that’s always a danger, especially going up a weight division for a six-rounder,” Minto, 25, conceded.

But he’s done his homework. And he’s taking nothing for granted.

“I’ve seen some footage of Kurt on YouTube, and he’s a straight up-and-down boxer,” Minto said.

“But I’ll definitely have to pick up my pace versus what I would do in a 12-rounder. I’m going to have to push my work rate up on the night.”

He’s confident. And although he has bigger fights on the horizon, including a world title defence, complacency won’t be a problem.

“This is a fight I’m taking in between the defence of my world title. It’s a fight to get the ring rust out, and to keep fit,” he said.

Minto has received offers to fight overseas.

But his plan is to first defend his belt in Australia, possibly in October. He then plans to travel to the US to train and consider his options.

Blake Minto plans to defend his world WBF title in Australia later this year, before heading to the US. Picture: David Stewart

Blake Minto plans to defend his world WBF title in Australia later this year, before heading to the US. Picture: David Stewart

Minto said despite winning a world title, some things in his world hadn’t changed. And he was glad about that.

Chief among them is the support he has received from locals.

“The community support has been sensational. It really is out of this world,” he said.

At the top of that list has been Toronto Workers Club, where Minto works as a cellarman.

“The staff here are great. I always enjoy coming to work, it’s great fun,” Minto said.

“And the club has been very supportive of me and my boxing. They understand when I need time off work, and I do appreciate that.”

The club patrons, too, provide support of a different kind: their mateship and good-natured ribbing helps to keep the champ grounded.

“The older blokes call me Bruiser,” Minto said.

On the occasions when Minto arrives at work with a black eye sustained in a sparring session, the patrons are quick to tell him how he should have zigged when he zagged.

“Yeah, sometimes they’re into me, and like to have a dig,” he smiled.

“But after I won the world title, when I came back to work there were some old fellahs here and everyone was congratulating me. I do get a lot of respect here, and it’s nice.”

At home, Minto’s growing family is a constant source of inspiration, but also respite from the fight game.

His fiancee Kierra, daughters Audrey, 2, and Kaeleyah, 6, and son, Garry, 8 months, ensure he keeps it real.

“When I’m at home, they make sure it’s down time for me. It’s great being with the kids. Family keeps me grounded,” Minto said.

Blake Minto will take on Kurt Finlayson at Wests City, in the Detonation 12 fight night at Newcastle, on Friday, July 20. General admission tickets cost $45, with general seating $65. Book at westsnewcastle.com.au

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