Ward spurred on by world dream

Martin Ward.
Martin Ward.
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MARTIN Ward has finished his last spar before his world title challenge ... and declared: “Bring on the fight”.

Ward did six rounds yesterday with world-rated Tshifhiwa Munyai at copach Neil Fannan’s gym.

It was his final session with the South African and now the 26-year-old from West Rainton has just 10 days to wait for his crack at Stuart Hall’s IBF bantamweight championship in Newcastle.

“Stuey Hall is a world champion and a world class fighter,” Ward said.

“So we needed world-class sparring and my manager, Dave Garside, has spared no expense in bringing that in. Tshi is certainly that.

“Dave said he wanted to raise the bar for me and he’s done that.

“You could see in there that Tshi is absolutely world-class – you don’t get top 10 ratings in the top governing bodies for nothing.

“You think he’s there to be hit and when you go to hit him, he’s not there.

“I just hope after all the training I’ve done with Tshi that when I go to hit Stuey, that he’s there!

“It has been said that I don’t like sparring, but something like that has been brilliant.

“I have done 26 rounds in less than a week and I have enjoyed every single one, may be apart from the very last round we did.

“I took too many right hands than I would have liked to be honest, but the whole experience has been brilliant.

“Tshi has brought out the best in me and that’s what Neil and Dave wanted.

“If I was sparring someone who wasn’t getting the best out of me I’d be bored and I’d be saying to Neil ‘I don’t want this’.

“But because Tshi is bringing the best out of me. I’ve loved it.

“We just have a week and a half to go now and I’m pretty much there, so bring it on.”

Ward will start as the outsider a week on Saturday at the Newcastle venue, where Hall makes the maiden defence of the crown he won last December against rugged South African Vusi Malinga.

But the bantamweight talent says he is inspired by the task rather than inhibited.

And he is confident he has the skills to beat the Darlington fighter.

“When every kid starts boxing they’ll always say ‘I wanna be world champion’,” smiled Ward (right).

“If you ever win a British title you have done pretty well and then if you become European champion then that’s even better.

“I have won the Commonwealth title and feel lucky and privileged to now get this chance to be a world champion before winning either of those belts I’ve just mentioned.

“People are writing me offf but I want to go in there and prove to everyone that I really am good enough.

“I rate my chances pretty well. I respect and like Stu and get on well with him, I count him as a friend of mine.

“But this is 12 rounds of boxing and it’s business.

“The best lad will win on the night and if it’s Stu there’ll be no hard feeling on my part.

“I’’ll shake his hand win, lose or draw and we’ll be friends again.

“But I do believe I’m good enough to go and take his belt.”