Bristol boxer Dean Francis to fight Poland's Bartlomiej Grafka in Swindon on March 9
Dean Francis will have British light heavyweight champion Tony Bellew firmly in his sights when he steps back into the ring in Swindon next month.
The former British, Commonwealth and European super middleweight champion, now 39, made a successful return to action after a three-year absence when stopping previously unbeaten Welshman Justyn Hugh to claim the vacant British Masters title at Newport in December.
Next up for Bristol-based Francis is a six-round non-title fight against Poland’s Bartlomiej Grafka at the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon on Saturday week.
And victory over the Katowice-born Grafka will move Francis a step nearer to a reckoning with Liverpool’s Bellew later this year.
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Show promoter Chris Sanigar said: “Our intention is to keep Dean busy this year and manoeuvre him into a position where he can challenge for the British title.
“Everything we are doing at the moment is geared towards a fight with Tony Bellew.”
If Francis does the business against 24-year-old Grafka (7 wins, 6 losses) and comes through unscathed on March 9, he will take another tune-up fight the following month.
Francis has already been pencilled in as chief support to Lee Haskins, who contests the vacant British bantamweight title against Newcastle’s Martin Ward in Bristol on a date still to be confirmed in April.
Francis has been back in the gym preparing since before Christmas. He told The Post: "I am in great shape already. I’ve been sparring and I feel like a fresh, young fighter.
“To come off a three-and-a-half-year lay-off and outclass an undefeated fighter shows that I have a lot to offer the division and I am confident that my new-found determination will take me all the way."
Tickets for the March 9 Swindon show are now on sale, priced £60 (VIP) and £35, and can be booked by calling Chris Sanigar on 0117 949 6699.