MARTIN Ward must face a new and tougher challenge when he fights for the English bantamweight title in Hartlepool.
The West Rainton boxer had been due to face Mike Robinson for the belt at Hartlepool Borough Hall on Sunday, September 30, only for the Liverpool man to pull out.
But now Ward has been handed a harder opponent – former British and Commonwealth super-bantamweight champ Jason “Too Smooth” Booth.
The Nottingham boxer is still a top drawer operator even if he is now, at the age of 34, in the veteran stage of his career.
He has lost his last four, but all have been championship contests.
And for those fight fans who stayed on at the Stadium of Light after Peter Cope’s International Masters belt win on the Summer Rumble last month they will have seen Booth unlucky to lose his challenge for the inaugural WBA European super-bantamweight title.
Booth dropped a unanimous decision to Ireland slugger Willie “Big Bang” Casey but many observers felt the English stylist had done enough to win.
“I thought Booth won,” Fannan said.
“I watched the fight and he started sharply and I thought ‘if he can keep this up he’ll win’.
“In my opinion he did keep it up and should have got the verdict.
“This is a better fight for Martin than Robinson would have been.
“Booth is a very good boxer who has been at the highest level for a lot of years.”
Robinson’s withdrawal threatened to continue the bad luck which has plagued Ward’s shot at this title.
“I didn’t dare tell Martin,” said Fannan. “I’m just glad something was sorted over the weekend and this is a beter bout.”
And promoter Phil Jeffries added: “Robinson just didn’t fancy it, I think he thought if Martin beat him it would damage his career.”