WEST Rainton’s Martin Ward is the new bantamweight champion of England after beating the experienced Jason ‘Too Smooth’ Booth over 10 bruising rounds at Hartlepool Borough Hall
The 24-year-old triumphed over a fighter 10 years his senior to earn a unanimous decision in front of hundreds of boxing fans.
But the Nottingham man, who has fought for European and world titles in an impressive career, pushed Ward all the way to the final bell
It was Ward’s first title but he is hungry for more after having to wait his chance for a shot at the vacant belt.
Original opponent Mike Robinson pulled out of their planned fight and then when the contest was rescheduled, Ward had to beg off with damaged hands.
That was a major disappointment for the young prospect who was due to top Phil Jeffries’ Summer Rumble event at the Stadium of Light in July.
But he made up for that with the victory over one of his boxing heroes to claim his first belt after a really hard-fought contest..
Having been patient for so long, Ward is now a man in a hurry.
“There’s a bit of the Irish in me, and like the Guinness advert, I know that good things come to he who waits!” he said.
“But I want to go on now to fight again soon and look to climb the tree. I’m ambitious enough to fight for British titles, European titles and maybe even world’s.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be good enough for those but I promise you I’ll give it a try.”
The judges at yesterday’s title scored the contest 97-95, 97-94 and 86-85 in Ward’s favour.
He said: “ A couple of the verdicts were really close and I thought I had won by more than that..
“I honestly felt pretty comfortable apart from a couple of rounds I knew he’d won.
“He’s a hell of a fighter though and I’m just pleased to have beaten him.”