British title fight next for triumphant Ward?

Martin Ward celebrates his win over Jason Booth at the Borough Hall.
Martin Ward celebrates his win over Jason Booth at the Borough Hall.
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PHIL Jeffries will today write to the British Boxing Board of Control demanding West Rainton’s Martin Ward be given an immediate shot at the British Bantamweight title.

Ward yesterday overcame the challenge of classy veteran James ‘Too Smooth’ Booth over 10 rounds at Hartlepool Borough Hall to claim the vacant English bantamweight title and prove he is a fighter on the up.

And Sunderland promoter Jeffries says the 24-year-old should not be forced to hang around now wait to step up to the next belt in his sights.

He told the Echo: “I’m writing to the BBBC today to insist Martin is considered immediately for a shot at the British title. It’s only fair.

“The lad has waited a long time just for any title shot and when it came through, he had to do it the hard way – he won’t face too many more difficult opponents in his career than Jason Booth.

“Booth fought on my Summer Rumble bill in July against Willie Casey for the WBA European super-bantamweight belt and I thought, like a lot of people, that Booth probably edged that fight, even though he didn’t get the decision on the day.

“But Martin boxed his socks off to beat a fighter of Booth’s calibre yesterday and showed he has the quality for him to be moving up the ranks.

“It was worthy of a TV fight their fight was – it was excellent – it swayed either way with Martin just coming out on top and Martin now deserves a shot at the British bantamweight title which I know he really wants. He’s ready for that now.”

The current holder of the title is 26-year-old Jamie McDonnell, who is also the European and Commonwealth bantamweight title holder.

But the Doncaster man has not defended his title in a year now and Jeffries says it is time for McDonnell to either face Ward in his next fight, or step aside and allow others to contest the belt.

He said: “McDonnell is a top fighter and we would love to make that fight but if it is not to be then the belt should be made vacant so the best challengers can go for it.

“Martin would love to fight for the British bantamweight title next and it is not right that the holder should not be forced to defend it after having it for over a year.”

Despite already looking forward to the future, Jeffries is just delighted for the moment that the West Rainton scrapper has his first professional belt under his belt.

He said: “Since I’ve been a promoter and worked with Neil Fannan, I’ve done my job – I’ve got Martin Ward a title fight in the North East and he’s gone on to do the business and win it.

“I’m thrilled about that. Thrilled we could stage the fight in the North East in front of a home crowd and thrilled that Martin showed his quality.”

Jeffries was also delighted that yesterday’s show went so well overall, despite not everything running smoothly.

He said: “Peter Cope from Hartlepool had to pull out at the last minute and I thought that might be a bit of a disaster while Greg O’Neil’s opponent, Steve Spence, wasn’t able to make it.

“But we found another opponent for Greg and theirs was an excellent fight and the fans loved the battle between Neil Hepper and Gary Fox too – I’m definitely looking for a rematch of that.

“They were a lot of 50:50 fights and it was a cracking show. Everyone was happy. We don’t do one-sided fights. I don’t want to bring up lads just to get knocked down and I think the public knows that.

“My own lads who did well at the weekend will now look to step up in class because I want them to keep progressing and fighting tough fights is the only way to go in that direction.

“The main thing on the day is that Martin Ward has got his title shot and made the most of it.”