Tommy guns for English Championship chance

Tommy Ward
Tommy Ward
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Tommy Ward is a step closer to fighting for the English super-bantamweight title.

The West Rainton fighter’s hopes of a spring challenge in the 8st 10lb division appeared to have faded after big domestic rival Gamal Yafai pulled out of a proposed contest.

But promoter Phil Jeffries has announced that he will be staging a show on Saturday, March 5, with the unbeaten 21-year-old headlining it.

“Tommy will be fighting for the English championship,” said Jeffries. “I said at the end of last year that our lads would be challenging for titles in 2016 and I’m over the moon to say Tommy will be the first.”

The match-up between undefeated rivals Ward and Yafai had been ordered by the British Boxing Board of Control, who had opened purse bids for the contest. However Yafai pulled out, with the BBBC offering Ward’s bosses, manager Dave Garside and trainer Neil Fannan, the opportunity to find a new opponent.

“We need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s before we can name names before the bout can officially be announced,” added Jeffries, who will put on the bill at Houghton’s Rainton Meadows Arena.

“I’m very excited by the show I’ve got lined up.”

Ward has won all 16 of his contests and there was even tentative talk of a challenge for the British title against James ‘Jazza’ Dickens if they could not arrange an English fight.

Tommy’s elder brother, Martin, will make his return from a bloodbath defeat to Dickens on the undercard of his sibling’s headline appearance.

The southpaw needed more than 30 stitches to two gashes to his right eye, one to the left and one to the top of his head, such was the brutality of the confrontation.

Now, the 27-year-old’s wounds have healed he will return with a six-rounder.

Glenn Foot is set for his first appearance since his thrilling 10-round Sunderland derby triumph over Kirk Goodings in September.

Jeffries hopes to get a light-welterweight title fight for the Wearside warrior this year and will look to an outing at the Rainton Meadows Arena as a step in that direction.

Isaac Macleod has won all five of his contests, the most recent being a second-round stoppage of Slovakian Lubos Priehradnik in November.

Ex-Commonwealth Games star Warren Baister, trained in Peterlee by David Binns, has won both fights since ending his glittering amateur career.

“I loved the last show, but this has the makings of an even better one,” added Jeffries. “It’s a real blockbuster.”