MARTIN Ward is one of boxing’s great entertainers, writes Roy Kelly.
He loves to put on a show and younger brother Tommy looks like following in the bantamweight title hope’s ringsteps.
The 18-year-old made a successful professional debut when he beat Slovakia’s Elemir Rafael at the Stadium of Light.
Young Ward, an orthodox fighter compared to the southpaw stance of Martin, won every round on the scorecard of referee Mark Curry.
And coach Neil Fannan heralded the performance of the teenager, who was a national junior champion during his career with Birtley ABC.
“It’s hard to impress on your debut because of the nerves and it being a different type of fight,” Fannan said. “But I thought Tommy did impress. You have to bear in mind that it wasn’t just his debut, it was also his first senior fight.
“Tommy’s only just out the juniors and Rafael is a 27-year-old man, who has had 60 fights. But I thought Tommy showed good strength. He’s a confident lad but he’s not boxed since November and never boxed as a man.
“I told him before the contest ‘forget about everyone talking about how good you are, you have to go in there and give nothing away’.
“The lad caught him with a shot as well which I was pleased about.
“I didn’t want him to go through the fight without taking one on the chin.
“He’s boxing without the headguard on now and with lighter gloves so it was nice to see him take one with no problems. He had no trouble and when he lets his hands go he looks top class.
“Tommy is very talented and I think he can clean up.”
Showing no sign of any nerves and resplendent in eye-catching black and white shorts, Ward began briskly against the experienced east European.
Using quick hands, he threw a left-right combination to the body of Rafael followed by a super uppercut.
When Ward gave himself room, he landed smartly, especially in the third when he connected with a flurry of head shots.
Rafael was no mug, but the Fannan fighter carried too much expertise and was full value for the 40-36 scoreline.