MARTIN Ward is not a big fan of sparring. In fact, he hates it.
But the West Rainton boxer has followed his coach’s orders and got stuck in to the job as he chases boxing glory this weekend.
Ward will take on Bristol’s Lee “the Playboy” Haskins in his rival’s home city on Saturday night when they contest the vacant British bantamweight title.
Trainer Neil Fannan has every faith in his gifted boxer, who has won 16 of his 17 pro contests, but believes preparation could be the key to victory.
The coach has allowed a little leeway on the sparring front to the 25-year-old ahead of his biggest wins – against Ian “Dapa” Napa and Jason “Too Smooth” Booth.
But this time Ward, who lifted the English title thanks to that titanic win over Booth at the Borough Hall inn Hartlepool last September, has been happy, sort of, to toe the Fannan line.
“We’ve been down Brendan Ingle’s gym to spar with WBC International super bantamweight champion Kid Galahad and a few more of his fighters because that’s the style Lee Haskins has got,” said Ward.
“We’ve been there twice a week for the last three weeks.
“We’ve been getting some good sparring and plenty of rounds – it’s been good.
“I still hate it, but I’ve been getting on with it.
“Neil’s been saying that this time we need more rounds than normal because of the style Lee brings to the table.
“I’m doing more rounds than I would have liked. But it’s all part and parcel of the game.
“Neil knows what he is on about and I trust Neil.
“If he says it’s got to be done then it’s got to be done.”
And Fannan told Echo Sport that he has been pleased by the Ward work ethic ahead of the 12-round showdown at the City Sports Academy.
“I’ve had to make him do enough rounds for this fight,” explained Fannan.
“He said for the Booth and Napa fights he only sparred three times. So he wasn’t very happy when I made him spar twice in one week!
“We’ve been going to Brendan Ingle’s in Sheffield and he’s sparred every awkward lad in there who is anywhere near his size.
“Martin has had to work hard and take a few shots. But I’ve been pleased with the preparation and all’s good.”