MARTIN Ward’s English championship jinx has struck again.
The West Rainton boxer had been due to take on Liverpool’s Mike Robinson at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, July 15, but has been forced to pull out with a hand injury.
It is the third time the 24-year-old had been due to challenge for the national belt.
“We’re gutted – we thought this was going to be Martin’s time,” said his coach Neil Fannan.
“There are no breaks, but the doctor ordered no punching for two weeks.
“The fight is just a few Sundays away, so there was no alternative.
“It’s bad news, but Martin is still young. It’s not like that was his last chance.
“When the injury fully heals we’ll try again, maybe September time.”
Ward had been due to challenge for the crown in March, only for Scouse opponent Craig Lyon to pull out of the contest because of cuts.
Then promoters Dave Garside and Phil Jeffries exhausted all possible avenues of opponent when they announced their intention to stage an English championship bout at Houghton last month.
Ward instead took on George Gachechiladze, knocking out the Georgian hardman in round eight thanks to a devastating right hook to the body.
The former world cadets silver medallist was forced to tough it out and victory was a painful one – with his right hand swelling up after the fight.
Depite the loss of the star attraction, the show, as the cliché says, will go on.
It is hoped Ward’s younger brother, Tom, will make his professional debut at Sunderland’s football ground.
The 18-year-old, a national junior champion, has turned pro, training alongside his bother at Fannan’s gym in Hartlepool.
Tom is currently waiting on the green light from the British Boxing Board of Control before he can step into the ring.
Unbeaten Hartlepool prospect Peter Cope will now top the huge bill when he challenges for the International Masters super-bantamweight title against Redcar’s Gavin Reid.
Sunderland’s David Dolan is also in action on a strong bill.