Martin Ward’s European Union title challenge at Houghton is off – but it’s not bad news for the West Rainton boxer.
The gifted southpaw was scheduled to take on Cristian Rodriguez for the vacant super-bantamweight belt on Saturday, March 4.
But the Spaniard has been ruled out due to a disciplinary issue and Ward has been promoted to be the mandatory challenger to the European title, currently held by another Spanish fighter, Abigail Medina.
The European Boxing Union could have put forward a new EU opponent but instead have ordered Medina v Ward.
Ward-Rodriguez was the top of the bill contest at the Phil Jeffries-promoted event at the Rainton Meadows Arena and the show will go on with a new headliner.
Team Ward are thrilled with the news and they will now look to begin negotiations to bring Medina to this country.
Coach Neil Fannan who, along with manager Dave Garside, has guided the diminutive dazzler every inch of the way in his pro career.
“We’d love to raise the money to tempt Medina over here,” said Fannan. “But I don’t think it will happen on the March 4 show.
“It really needs to be on a television show, to get Martin a more rewarding purse and some deserved exposure to a big audience.
“There are more TV channels showing boxing now and a European title fight should be on the telly. We’ll try to find a broadcaster.”
Fannan rates Medina highly and expects a hard encounter.
Medina won the European title in December when he enjoyed a unanimous points victory over France’s Jeremy Parodi in Gran Canaria.
It was the 28-year-old’s 17th career win, with just three defeats and two draws on his record. Eight of his victories have come inside the distance.
Ward, also 28, has 24 victories to his credit with three losses and one draw, with five of his wins early.
“Medina looks good,” said the trainer, who is waiting on a British Championship date for Martin’s younger brother, Tommy, against Jazza Dickens.
“I watched his European title fight with Jamie McDonnell. He lost, but he never stopped trying from first to last.
“It looks a good fight but probably won’t take place until April or May and on a bigger show.
“We are over the moon with the decision of the EBU.
“I got an e-mail from Rodriguez’s handlers to tell me their man was off but offering me an alternative opponent from over there.
“But Martin is rated number two in Europe and we did not want to be going down a list and we put the matter in the hands of the EBU.
“The EU title fight was essentially an eliminator for the European Championship and for the EBU to come back in the same day and say Martin would be made mandatory challenger is brilliant news.
“For us to have the mandatory challenger for the European with Martin and the British with Tommy is a great position to be in.”