MARTIN Ward will raise his game and raise the roof when he fights at the Stadium of Light.
The West Rainton boxer will fight Leigh Wood for the vacant English super-bantamweight title in Sunderland on Sunday, July 5.
But the top-of-the-bill showdown at the Summer Rumble will carry a bigger reward – it is a British title eliminator with the winner getting a shot at champ Jazza Dickens.
Promoter Phil Jeffries has won the purse bids for the contest and will stage it, in association with Dave Garside, in the annual July bash at Sunderland’s football ground.
Ward’s coach, Neil Fannan, is excited at the prospect of of the classy 27-year-old fighting for the top honours at 8st 10lb.
The southpaw has stepped up a division, having won the English and Commonwealth titles at bantam while challenging for Stuart Hall’s IBF world belt, only to be cruelly halted by a badly cut eye in Newcastle last year.
“I’m over the moon we won the purse bids,” said Fannan.
“I don’t look past fights and in no way will we take Leigh Wood for granted.
“But I see this bout as the first piece in the jigsaw and look forward to seeing Martin move on to a British title fight.”
Wood will be a formidable opponent – he has already fought for the Lonsdale Belt and boasts a record of 14 wins from 15 appearances.
The Nottingham boxer, known as “Leigh-thal”, started brightly against Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell in February 2014 only for the 26-year-old to fade and get stopped in the sixth round at Hull Ice Arena.
But the Ingles-trained boxer has made an impressive recovery by returning with three straight stoppage wins.
Ward has won twice since leaving the 8st 6lb division, the most recent success coming at the Borough Hall last Friday.
The Hartlepool-trained talent outclassed Lithuanian Simas Volosinas over six one-sided rounds.
“Martin said to me ‘how did I box?’ and I thought he did well,” said Fannan.
“But, no disrespect to Volosinas, it was easy for him.
“But I think Martin needs to be in with someone good to raise his game.
“He’ll have to raise his game against Leigh Wood and I think you’ll see that at the Stadium of Light.
“For me, Martin is coming to his peak and I believe he’s one of the best super-bantams we have.
“The other year he really turned it on against Ian Napa at the Summer Rumble and I am confident he’ll do it again here.”