Tommy Ward’s path to his first title may just have got a little easier ... or harder.
The gifted West Rainton boxer had been due to fight Gamal Yafai in the spring for the English super-bantamweight championship.
It was a mouthwatering match up between two of the brightest young talents in the 8st 10lb division.
The British Boxing Board of Control ordered purse bids for the contest with the winner of the bidding process ordered to stage it before the end of March.
Birmingham star Yafai though has pulled out, leaving Team Ward the task of finding an opponent for the 21-year-old.
It means, on paper at least, he could now face a less-difficult test.
However, his coach and manager, Neil Fannan and Dave Garside, are pondering an audacious crack at James Dickens and the British title he retained against Tommy’s elder brother, Martin.
Fannan says getting a fight with Dickens could be as simple as finding a replacement opponent for Yafai.
“It’s frustrating that Yafai has pulled out,” he said.
“Why did his people put him forward for it and then pull out?
“I just don’t understand it.
“The Board have said that if we can find a suitable opponent they approve of, then we can make that fight.
“I want Tommy to win the English belt, but I’m not sure whether we can get an opponent.
“We tried Josh Wale (who fought Dickens for the vacant British title earlier this year), but he doesn’t want it.
“Leigh Wood, who was supposed to meet Martin (Ward) at the Summer Rumble says there is no way he can make super-bantam any more.
“We could be stuck on getting a suitable match on the English title front.
“The fight with Dickens is a real possibility, it’s not just me talking rubbish.”
Dickens made a successful maiden defence of the Lonsdale Belt against Ward Snr ... but only just.
The pair put on one of the fights of the year last month, the Liverpool fighter winning on a split decision in a bloodbath at the Rainton Meadows Arena.
Would a clash with the talented Scouser be too early for the younger Ward?
“It’s a fight I’d love to see,” said Fannan. “I think Tommy would raise his game.
“Martin gave Jazza a great fight, but perhaps got too involved in a scrap.
“The way to beat Jazza is to keep out of the road and outbox him and Tommy has all the talent in the world.
“We’ve spoken to him and his people about coming up here for a voluntary defence.
“He was happy with the way he was looked after when he was up here and said he enjoyed boxing in the North-East.
“It will come down to money and me, Dave and (promoter) Phil Jeffries will need to sit down to see if it’s possible.”