You must go back to the beginning of February this year to find the last time we saw Craig 'Spider' Richards in action. It was the vacant WBA Continental Light Heavyweight Title and Richards stopped Jake Ball in the third round.
It was a domestic rivalry which had been ongoing but Richards finally put a stop to the talking with a clinical display in the ring. Before the live Sky Sports cameras, it was the right hand of Richards which caused the damaged and forced the referee to step in and call a halt to the fight.
That fight marked Richards' fourth successive victory following the loss to Frank Buglioni in Cardiff. The fight in the Principality Stadium is still the only defeat in Richards' impressive professional career and as fight fans know, it came with very little preparation time.
However, preparation will not be an issue for Richards' next fight. The 'Spider' will take on Andre Sterling at the JD NXTGEN card at the famous York Hall, Bethnal Green. This bout is huge as it is an eliminator for a shot at the British title, currently held by Joshua Buatsi. Despite the prize of a meeting with Buatsi, Richards cannot afford to take his eye off the upcoming contest.
Sterling last fought on the 23rd February and defeated Ricky Summers. Sterling won by clear decision but not before being put on the canvas himself in the second round. The 28-year-old from New Cross in London is yet to taste defeat in his professional career having won all ten of his fights. Sterling was crowned the Southern Area Light-Heavyweight Champion in November 2018 and has his sights set on a crack at the Lonsdale Belt.
Richards has other ideas and the 'Spider' has studied his fight against Ball and been working hard in the gym. Some of the focus has been on improving areas of that bout which could have been better and developing himself physically ready for the contest.
Richards has also been working on the mental side of things and top professional boxing is not only about the physical aspects fans witness in the ring. Some of this was born from the fight against Buglioni and Richards has spoken about forming a different attitude to boxing since that night in Cardiff.
A confirmation of this new mental approach can be seen in Richards' results following the Buglioni fight. The 'Spider' has won all four bouts but has done so inside three rounds each time, which is impressive. To some onlookers, Richards may not look an especially tough opponent and he has admitted that himself. However, those who have faced him inside the ring know different.
Sterling could be the next man to feel the wrath of the new, mentally improved Craig 'Spider' Richards when they meet on Friday 21st June at York Hall. Expect an explosive night of action as Richards aims to continue his streak of stoppages.