MARTIN Ward is not frightened of tackling Lee Haskins for the British title – or the daunting prospect of fighting in front of a partisan Bristol crowd.
Haskins, rated number one in Britain and Europe, has home advantage when the duo meet and the City Sports Academy on Saturday night for the vacant belt.
But Ward, from West Rainton, believes he has enough skill and the right coach in Neil Fannan to come out on top and bring the belt home.
“It doesn’t bother me, a boxing ring is a boxing ring, no matter where you put it,” said the 25-year-old.
“I’ll have a good set of fans down there, so I won’t be alone.
“And I’ve got the best cornerman in the country and probably one of the best in the world.
“Neil is so calm and knows what he is doing – he never gets flustered. If there are any bad rounds he’ll stay calm and start off again.
“Neil is a great man-manager – if things get tough on Saturday I know he’ll have the right things to say.”
It promises to be some fight.
While Haskins, known as “Playboy”, tops the continental rankings, the European Boxing Union have Ward rated at three so he could depose the 29-year-old who has the impressive record of only three defeats in 29 starts.
Fannan and manager Dave Garside have the belief that Ward will go far, at home and abroad, after a career of success as a junior and amateur and then 15 win out of 16 appearances in the professionals.
“I think I have a pretty good track record,” Ward said. “I didn’t quite win the senior ABAs, I got pipped in the semi-final by Samir Mouneimne.
“I was a three times national schoolboys champion and and three-time ABA champ.
“I’m English champion as a professional and my next step is the British title, that’s how it should be in boxing.
“Neil seems to think we can go further, and the fact he says that is great.
“But obviously I’m not looking past Lee Haskins – he’s a terrific fighter but then again so I am and I’ll be looking to prove that on Saturday.”
Preparations have gone smoothly – all the hard training and sparring have already been completed – and the weight is not a problem.
Ward says the final few days are among the hardest of the build-up, especially when the family man – he is married with two children – has to get his “fighting head” on.
To be honest, it’s harder than a full-blown week in the gym and I send her back to her mam’s for a week,” he laughed.
“Seriously, she’s very good, she understands that towards the end of the training camp and in the week of the fight that I’m a little bit narky.
“I just can’t wait now for the fight to come.”