Martin Ward is a step closer to fighting for the European Championship.
The West Rainton boxer has been made mandatory challenger for the European Union super-bantamweight title.
That belt is currently under the ownership of France’s Jeremy Parodi, who outpointed Italy’s Emiliano Salvini in Paris last month in Paris. Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell has vacated to move into world contention, having won the WBC silver super-bantam title.
With the championship vacant, it makes Parodi-Ward a final eliminator and the European Boxing Union has ordered purse bids by June.
The winner would take on the victor between Ward’s arch-rival, James “Jazza” Dickens, and Spaniard Abigail Medina.
Ward’s trainer, Neil Fannan, said: “I’m very excited about the situation.
“The European route has been the best one for Martin given (brother) Tommy is going for the British title.
“Because Parodi beat Salvini for the vacant belt then he’s obliged to defend it.
“Martin’s one place below him in the ratings, so I emailed the EBU and they have ordered a match and we’ll be putting in a bid for it.
“And with Dickens and Medina fighting for a vacant title, the winner of that would have to defend it against either Martin or Parodi.”
Fannan says Team Ward will be placing a purse bid, with the Summer Rumble at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, July 10 a possibility.
“We’ll see what happens,” said Fannan. “I’ve spoken to (manager) Dave Garside and we’ll be doing our best to get home advantage.
“But if we had to go to France to fight Jeremy then I’d still be confident.”
Parodi, 29, boasts 38 wins and a draw from 42 bouts.
“Parodi is good,” said Fannan. “He’s a come-forward fighter who will try to wear you down. But, in my view, no super-bantamweight in the world has a better engine than Martin so I have no fears about this contest.”
Meanwhile, Tommy Ward could be set for a straight British super-bantamweight title shot after all. Commonwealth champ Gamal Yafai has withdrawn from the purse bid process for a final eliminator which should clear the path to challenge the holder, Dickens.