ON paper, it might look seven months away – but for Tommy Ward, Valentin’s Day is just around the corner.
The talented teenage boxer from West Rainton is to box Bulgaria’s number one, Valentin Marinov, at the Summer Rumble on July 7.
His coach Neil Fannan admitted last Friday that he was frustrated at the calibre of opponent selected for a match with Tommy’s elder brother Martin at the Stadium of Light’s Sunday afternoon spectacular.
But there are no complaints over Marinov, who tops his country’s ratings and is an ambitious 20 year-old.
“I’m not after seeing Tommy get beaten, but I want him tested,” Fannan explained.
“He was going to fight an unbeaten Hungarian but that bout has fallen through.
“This lad that he’s been matched with now looks ideal. Tommy doesn’t want anyone easy and neither do I.
“I want to see him in a fight and I want to see how he handles it.
“I rate Tommy as good a prospect as anyone in the country. I’m not saying he’s better than anyone, just that he’s as good.
“It serves no purpose bringing in an opponent who just dances around the ring and has no interest in winning.
“I want someone who’s going to come and have a proper go and Marinov fits that bill.”
The 18-year-old has not fought since beating Delroy Spencer in Newcastle in November.
And Fannan says excitement is mounting. “Tommy can’t wait to fight,” said the coach.
“He had three bouts in his first four months as a pro but then he’s had eight months out.
“A show fell through he was going to be on, an opponent came in seven/eight pounds overweight and then he got a cut ahead of the Scarborough bill he was due to box on.
“But he’s still prepared for those contests and has the benefit of those preparations under his belt.
“This fight should be a belter.”
Anyone who wants more information on the Summer Rumble, or tickets to the show should ring the organisers on 0774 7611 020.