Tommy Ward handed big title eliminator

Tommy Ward training at the Neil Fannon Boxing Gym, Hartlepool.
Tommy Ward training at the Neil Fannon Boxing Gym, Hartlepool.
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Tommy Ward will not be fighting for the English Championship when he tops the bill for the first time – he has an even better fight.

The West Rainton boxer will take on Robbie Turley, from Wales, in a British super-bantamweight title eliminator at Houghton on March 5.

Promoter Phil Jeffries had planned to headline the talented 21-year-old in a crack at the vacant English belt.

But the match the British Boxing Board of Control ordered, against fellow unbeaten prospect Gamal Yafai, fell through when the Birmingham fighter pulled out.

The BBBC offered Ward’s bosses, manager, Dave Garside and trainer, Neil Fannan, the opportunity to find a substitute opponent for the him.

That search proved fruitless but now a better opening has emerged.

“We’re over the moon to have got this fight,” Fannan told the Echo.

“We had tried to get an English title match and we thought we had a lad from Birmingham lined up.

“But while there were talks about that bout, this opportunity came up.

“We had a bit of negotiating to do with Turley’s manager, Chris Sanigar, but it’s all agreed.

“Even if we had arranged an English Championship contest, the chances are even if Tommy had won, he’d still have to take on Turley in an eliminator

“Now, it’s a brilliant situation for Tommy – beat Turley and he’ll made mandatory challenger for the British title.”

Ward is the younger brother of Martin, whose bid for the British super-bantamweight crown ended in a brave and bloody defeat at the hands of champion James “Jazza” Dickens last November.

Tommy, who has won all 16 of his pro bouts, is now a step closer to tackling the Scouser.

But first he must negotiate his way past Turley at the Rainton Meadows Arena.

The 29-year-old, from Newport, also has 16 victories on his record, though there are five losses on there too.

But Fannan says there is tremendous respect for the former Welsh champion.

“Robbie is a decent boxer, but he’s also a very tough man,” he said. “He went the full 10 rounds with Carl Frampton for the Celtic super-bantamweight title.

“Frampton is now one of our best world champions but he could not shift Turley.

“This is a canny fight for Tommy, but he’s ready – he proved that when he beat Everth Briceno at Rainton Meadows a couple of months back.

“He outclassed a man with a very good pedigree and someone who had twice fought for a world title.”