Boxing makes its triumphant return to the North-East on 11th November, as the much-anticipated Smith vs Williams rematch headlines a stacked card at the Metro Arena in Newcastle.
Propping up the main event is somewhat of a homecoming. A maiden British title defence for a young man who has quickly established himself as one of the stand out talents in a pool of exciting up and coming prospects.
In an exclusive interview with FightTalk.net, British champion, Tommy Ward, looks ahead to his opportunity on the big stage.
A Hartlepool lad through and through, the unbeaten Super Bantamweight is ready to spearhead a revival that has seen the North-East re-establish itself as a force in British boxing. Trained by Neil Fannon in the city he was raised, local pride oozed from the young talent as he reflected on a soon finishing camp and looked ahead to the task in hand.
‘’Yeah training has been going good. I am very confident in myself. I don’t really know Sean Davis. But I have been told he is a good fighter though, so I am looking forward to it.’’
‘’The gym is an old school gym at Neil Fannon’s back-yard in a shed with a ring and a couple of bags. But it’s good work. We are there every day and Neil tells us what to do.’’
Unorthodox methods breed the best fighters. In an age where such focus is laid on science, exact calculations and luxury facilities, the Ward brothers remind me of the true roots of the sport.
‘’Every day is different. When it comes to sparring we travel anywhere for the best of sparring all the time. So it’s good stuff. I am happy with it.’’
A controversial Technical Decision victory over 122lbs former British champion, Jazz Dickens at the First Direct Arena in Leeds sealed the first title of Ward’s career. Sitting at the top of the domestic pile aged only 23 would be enough to send some men spiralling into an egotistical and self-indulgent aura of invincibility.
Not Tommy Ward.
Humble. Modest. Level headed. Underrated qualities in young fighters. Slowly and patiently carving out an impressive 21-0 resume, 2018 beacons kindly. The backing of Frank Warren and more recently BT Sport have opened the door to many possibilities for the Durham fighter, who seemed more focussed on the job at hand on 11th November.
‘’Yes, I am British champion. I would like to fight for a world title one day. But that’s for me to say. I must take one fight at a time and see what happens. I am not a promoter or manager, so I can’t say. But whatever comes my way I will be ready.’’
Driven by the power of brotherhood, Ward’s acquisition of the British in May put him on a par with older brother, Martin, a former titlist who went on to contest a hard-fought draw with at the time IBF world champion, Stuart Hall.
Boxing runs in the blood, and Tommy Ward is fully aware of the energy he and his brother draw from each other as he puts the final touches to camp preparation.
‘’Having brothers on the same path as me helps a lot. I learn a lot from him and we push each other so it’s good.’’
The Klitschko dynasty springs to mind when discussing brothers that not only shared a profession in boxing, but also a division. The Hall of Fame pairing’s refusal to fight one another became a stand out feature of the Klitshcko era. A sentiment reiterated by the Ward clan.
‘’No. He’s my brother and I love him. We are family and we would never fight.’’
Looking beyond the domestic crop of talent, WBA Super Bantamweight and Pound for Pound contender, Guillermo Rigondeaux makes an unprecedented 8lb jump in weight to 130lbs to challenge Vasyl Lomachenko. A fight made for the purists. Two standout amateurs and undoubted technicians of the sport.
A fantasy match-up that has divided opinions and puzzled the boxing world since its announcement. Tommy Ward’s take on the bout was no different.
‘’What a fantastic fight. It is so hard to pick a winner but for me I will go with Lomachenko. But it is hard to say. The skill of Rigo is unbelievable so I don’t really know. I am looking forward to the fight though.’’
For now, though, all roads lead to Newcastle for Tommy Ward. A fighting man with a big future ahead. A stand out performance can open the door to big things in 2018 for the young Hartlepool man. A smooth technician and perhaps the best kept secret of the North. Look out for the name.
Follow Tommy’s journey on Twitter: @Tommy2Ward
Written by Tom Humber