Hartlepool boxing title hopefuls Tommy and Martin Ward have international tests
And little brother Tommy could also be heading in that same direction, according to coach Neil Fannan.
The Ward brothers are both on the bill this evening at the Lancastrian Suite in Dunston.
Martin takes on Spanish-based Nicaraguan Arnoldo Solano over six rounds as a tune-up for his challenge for Jazza Dickens’ super-bantamweight belt at the Rainton Meadows Arena on November 20 .
But while that looks a straight-forward assignment for the 27-year-old, Tommy’s international match is designed as a test.
Tommy has his biggest bout yet, a 10-rounder with African champ Nasibu Ramadhani.
Should he pass it, Fannan and manager Dave Garside may well push him for a title contest as well.
“I’m hoping this is a little test,” said Fannan. “I do believe it will take someone top class to get the better of Tommy.
“But I want to see him extended and this could be one such case, we’ll see.
“Since about the seventh or eighth fight I get asked ‘is it time to let him off the leash?’.
“But we’ve moved him on in the right stages and he has had tests, it’s just that he keeps passing them.
“This is another stage, a 10-rounder. I want him to get used to weighing-in the day before like you would in championship contests.
“This is practice for title fights and, providing this goes all right, I think we’d take one now.
“We are not calling people out or anything like that, but if the chance comes along then we are ready.
The 21-year-old has won all 14 bouts but he meets a dangerous opponent this evening.
Ramadhani, from Tanzania, has lost only once in his last seven outings and that came in a challenge for the Commonwealth bantamweight title.
That, ironically, was the belt vacated by Martin Ward when he decided to move up to super-bantam.
The southpaw does not have a pushover tonight – Solano, 24, boasts 14 wins in his 26 appearances.
“We just want Martin to get some rounds under his belt,” said Fannan.
“After tonight I think we’ll have a week off and then we get back in the gym it will be eight weeks before the Jazza Dickens fight, that will be ideal.”
Elsewhere tonight, exciting Sedgefield light-welter Bradley Saunders has his first bout after recovering from hand surgery when the unbeaten 29-year-old takes on France’s Renald Garrido in Liverpool over eight rounds.