Neil Fannan has high hopes for boxer Martin Ward

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NEIL Fannan hopes a case of six of the best will move Martin Ward closer to British championship contention.

The trainer has high hopes for the talented 23-year-old from West Rainton ahead of his 11th professional bout next month.

Ward, who has won nine of his 10 contests, will face Shaun Doherty over six rounds at Houghton on Saturday, April 9.

This battle of the little men will feature on the undercard of Darlington star Stuey Hall’s bid to win a Lonsdale Belt for keeps when he make the third defence of his British bantamweight crown against John Donnelly.

And Fannan hopes a victory for Hall could open up a title route for Ward.

“Martin’s looking the part,” Fannan said. “I’ve worked pretty closely with Stuey and his team and if he wins his fight next month he fancies a crack at the European title.

“Stuey’s only had 11 fights himself and three of those have been British title contests, so it’s not too early for Martin.”

Doherty has something of a mixed record of three wins, three draws and four defeats.

But the 28-year-old, from Bradford, comes into the Frank Maloney-promoted event at Rainton Meadows Arena on the back of an exciting victory.

The 28-year-old won the British Masters super-bantamweight belt when he stopped Matthew Edmonds in the 10th and final round of their clash at Newport.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Fannan explained. “I’ve spoken to a couple of people about him.

“He’s supposed to be a strong, come-forward fighter who has been unlucky with a couple of decisions.

“People who know the lad say he’s better than his record.

“Martin and Shaun have had a similar number of fights and while Doherty’s record is not as good, it has the makings of a decent match.”

Ward, a clever boxer with a World Cadet championship silver medal from his amateur days, is “looking the part” according to his coach.

“We’ve been down Liverpool sparring,” said Fannan.

“The lad who we’ve sparred with has only had one fight as a pro but he was a top-class amateur so it was good stuff.”

The Frank Maloney show at Houghton is expected to feature a number of local up-and-coming stars.