Oh brother! Ward forced into spectating role

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MARTIN Ward will put his own boxing heartache to one side this Sunday as he cheers on younger brother Tommy in the major fight event, Summer Rumble 2.

Up to 18 professional bouts are due to be held at the Stadium of Light this weekend in a show where Martin should have been topping the bill.

The 24-year-old from West Rainton was due to fight Liverpool’s Mike Robinson for the vacant English bantamweight belt – until a hand injury forced his withdrawal a couple of weeks ago.

So instead of being top of the bill at the stadium, he’ll be ringside to cheer on younger brother Tommy – although the injured bantamweight admits he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t feel a huge twinge of disappointment as the bouts come and go.

He told the Echo: “I was devastated when I realised I wouldn’t be able to go ahead with my fight.

“I’d had swelling in my hand for a while but I was nursing it through, quietly hopeful it would be fine.

“When I started sparring though it swelled up painfully and if you can’t even spar you really can’t box.

“There was no other option than to pull out.

“But I’ll still be there this Sunday because I want to support my brother Tommy and also because a lot of the North East boxers on the bill are my friends, and I want them to do well.

“It should be a great show and I would love to still be top of it.

“No doubt I’ll feel a bit sick on the day that I’ll not be climbing through the ropes like I should have been, but I’ll bounce back.”

Ward’s spirits have been lifted by the prospect of a title fight some time in Autumn which is expected to held in the North East.

He admitted: “That has helped me a lot, helped me keep going.

“The hand needs resting. That will cure it.

“And it should be fine for September-time when I’m hoping to get a title fight up here.

“The thought that my chance of a getting a belt has just been postponed for a few months, rather than cancelled altogether is what has given me a lift.”

In the meantime, there’ll be the opportunity for Martin to cheer on super-featherweight Tommy, with the 18-year-old have turned pro early and facing an opponent of vast experience this Sunday.

He takes on Slovakian Elemir Rafael, a 27-year-old who is a veteran of 82 fights.