MARTIN Ward’s date on boxing’s Summer Rumble may have bitten the dust ... but younger brother Tom is ready to explode onto the big stage.
The exciting teenager from West Rainton, a top junior boxer, has left the amateur game early and has followed Martin into the professional ranks and will make his debut at the Stadium of Light this Sunday.
Tom, who has been training in Neil Fannan’s Hartlepool camp for some time, has been given the green light by the British Boxing Board of Control.
And the 18-year-old will start against a tough overseas opponent – Slovakia’s Elemir Rafael.
“Tom has been pestering me for ages to go pro,” laughed Fannan. “But I had been in no rush for him to turn professional. He has been coming down to the gym for a while with Martin.
“Tom had become a bit disenchanted with the amateurs – he didn’t feel he was getting the opportunuties he thought he deserved.
“All I said to him was he could train with us and we’ll see how it goes. He’s done really well and come on a ton with his sparring.
“I think fans will enjoy watching him. Tom’s a different style of fighter to Martin but he’s exciting.
“It’s not an easy start for him – Rafael is a very experienced opponent.”
Indeed he is. The talented Ward boasts national junior titles with Birtley ABC, but Rafael, 27, has boxed 82 times.
Successful in his native Slovakia, his record outside his homeland is pretty poor but Fannan said: “It looks like being a decent fight.”
Tom Ward is one part of a six-pack of Hartlepool-based fighters on the Summer Rumble.
Fannan team-mates David Dolan and Robert Ismay are also in action, along with Gus Robinson Developments trio Peter Cope, Greg O’Neil and debutant Callum Winton.