Tommy Ward can barge his way onto boxing’s world stage by winning the British super-bantamweight title.
But the 22-year-old from West Rainton faces a huge challenge tomorrow night when he must first dethrone the 8st 10lb national king, James “Jazza” Dickens, in Leeds.
The Liverpool southpaw has lost only twice in his career, to excellent Sheffield fighter Kid Galahad and to the man rated as the world’s best pound-for-pound champ, Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Ward is a bright lad and knows the size of the task.
However, the incentive is amazing – a 21st straight pro victory would make him British champion and propel him into global contention.
“Jazza is world-rated and boxed for the WBA title just last July, so if I beat him then I’m going to be world-rated,” said Ward.
“If he can challenge for the world title and I beat him then I can do the same.
“Jazza is as good as anyone about at super-bantamweight and I believe I can beat him.
“Those other fights could follow but I know this is for the British title and every boxer dreams of winning that belt.”
The unbeaten Dave Garside and Neil Fannan star is an exceptional boxer, arguably the best natural talent in the North-East.
His handspeed, reactions, movement are breathtaking, though it has been hard to gauge his ability as he’s never been extended in the ring.
The NES Securities-sponsored boxer admits himself he won’t probably know until after the first three minutes what sort of chance he has at the First Direct Arena.
“I don’t get hit very often that’s true but I’ve never fought anyone as a good as Jazza before so I expect to get tagged a couple of times,” he said. “He can box and he can fight. After the first round I will know if he can cope with my speed or not.”
Dickens has the world title on his mind too for the confrontation which will be shown live on BT Sport.
The 26-year-old is boxing for the first time since an early stoppage in his WBA clash with Rigondeaux last July.
And the Scouser knows he needs a victory tomorrow night to get back to the top level. “I’m really looking forward to performing on BT Sport,” said Dickens who described his opponent as competitive.
“It is a bigger platform and I’m very lucky, I intend to make the most of it. I’ve trained my best ever so I should fight my best ever. I’m flying!
“Nationally, the fans probably don’t know too much about Thomas but he’s going to be very competitive.
“This is a real fight and when I know I could be up against it but I don’t fear that. I get off on it.”