MARTIN Ward admits victory in his British title fight in Bristol would be a “dream come true”.
But he says he wants to win the Lonsdale Belt as much for trainer Neil Fannan as he does for himself!
Ward takes on favourite Lee Haskins at the City Sports Academy tonight for the vacant British bantamweight championship after becoming the English belt holder last September.
It would represent the 25-year-old’s first major success in the pro game after a glittering junior and amateur career, which included a silver medal at the world cadets tournament.
And victory would be Fannan’s first title since Argie Ward (no relation) was the Commonwealth super-bantamweight king in the autumn of 2007.
“Neil deserves one, and so do I, so I hope I can make us both happy,” Ward said.
“I want the title for myself but I’d love to bring it back to Fanno’s. The fighters put in the work but Fanno puts in so much himself. He’s a very dedicated man.
“He’s been close a few times with Dave Dolan but if I could give him a British title tonight that would be great.”
Ward went face to face with Haskins for the first time yesterday at the weigh-in.
The southpaw tipped the scales at 8st 5½lbs with Haskins dead on the 8st 6lb limit.
He looked relaxed – as did the Bristol fighter – and, as typifies his laid-back persona he was not making any bold or brash predictions.
“I’m pleased with how training has gone and I have come here very confident,” he said.
“I’m going for the victory but if I come second best then I know I will have been a very good second best and Lee Haskins will know that he has been in with a top class fighter.”
Should he triumph, it would be the greatest moment of a career which began as a 10-year-old at a local sports centre in Sherburn.
“They did boxing there a couple of times a week so I went along, basically just to get me out of the house,” he smiled.
“I had a couple of fights there – won one and lost one – but I wasn’t really that bothered.
“But some friends said ‘why don’t you try Birtley, it’s a good club’ and I went there.
“They changed me from orthodox to southpaw and I started winning a few fights and then a few titles.
“They said I was quite good and the rest is history, I had a bit of success and got England vests and then I went pro with Neil and Dave.
“Winning tonight would be the ultimate feeling. When you are a kid, you win a few bouts and you feel brilliant and then you win a schoolboys or Junior ABA title and it feels like you are a world champion.
“But to win a British title as a professional would be a dream come true.