TOMMY Ward has been handed the biggest fight of his flourishing career – a showdown with former triple champ Esham Pickering, writes Roy Kelly.
The Hartlepool boxer will tackle on the former British, Commonwealth and European super-bantamweight title holder at South Shields on Sunday, October 12.
Ward, unbeaten in nine contests, meets Pickering, who was beaten by Hartlepool legend Michael Hunter in a sensational unification match at the Borough Hall in 2005.
Taking the scalp of the 38-year-old, who is one fight into a comeback, would give Ward’s career a significant step forwards.
The younger brother of IBF world title challenger Martin, Tommy recently registered win number nine as a professional.
The Neil Fannan and Dave Garside featherweight defeated Croatia’s Antonio Horvatic on points at Doncaster.
His trainer and manager knew a test was required and that is exactly what the 20-year-old will be getting at Temple Park in four Sundays time.
“It’s a good fight and a good name,” Fannan told the Echo.
“But I’m not taking a won as read.
“I know Pickering’s age and obviously he’s past his best, but he’s always been a good puncher and Tommy’s going to have to be on the ball.
“But I have total faith in Tommy, I rate him as one of the best young prospects in the country.
“He’s not had all easy touches and he’s been tested already.
“But after his last fight we knew we needed something more difficult.
“It looked a competitive fight and there’s no doubt Horvatic came to give it a go.
“Tommy made it look too easy so we asked (matchmaker) Mick Marsden to get us someone tidy for South Shields.
“He came back with Esham Pickering and we immediately said ‘yes, we want it’.
“We’ll take nothing for granted, boxing’s boxing, anything can happen, and Pickering will be a very good test.
“This is another step up and the win will move Tommy on a bit, which is what we want.”
Ward v Pickering is one of the main support bouts on a bill headlined by the English super-fly title fight between South Shields star Anthony ‘Babyface’ Nelson and Terry Broadbent, from Leeds.