Tommy Ward’s route to the British super-bantamweight championship has got a little longer – and interesting.
The British Boxing Board of Control have announced a “final” title eliminator for the undefeated 21-year-old against fellow unbeaten fighter Gamal Yafai.
When Ward outpointed Wales warrior Robbie Turley in a British super-bantamweight eliminator at Houghton in March, he thought the path was clear to challenge the holder of the Lonsdale belt, James “Jazza” Dickens.
But the BBBC have now ordered Ward v Yafai which, while frustrating to coach Neil Fannan and manager Dave Garside, does have a significant fringe benefit.
“Yafai is the Commonwealth champion, so if the contest happens then it will be for that title, as well as the right to fight Jazza,” said Fannan.
It is an intriguing journey to say the least but one the Hartlepool fighter will relish.
The pair had been lined up to meet in the spring after the BBBC had put the bout out to purse bids.
After the Birmingham fighter pulled out of that process, the governing body instructed Ward’s management team and promoter, Phil Jeffries, to source their own eliminator.
Enter Turley, who provided extremely game opposition at the Rainton Meadows Arena before Ward took the bout on a unanimous decision.
All three judges scored for the younger brother of Martin Ward by varying margins, John Keane (97-93), Andrew Wright (98-92) and Graeme Williams (96-94).
“It’s strange what has gone on but not a total surprise,” said Fannan.
“We were happy when the Board ordered an eliminator between Tommy and Gamal at the end of last year.
“It was Yafai who withdrew and when he went and boxed for the Commonwealth title we thought ‘he’s decided on going another route’.
“Now, the Board have put it forward as a final eliminator so the winner of that gets Dickens.
“And the great thing is that it will have to be for Yafai’s Commonwealth title so there is plenty at stake.”
Gamal, the younger brother of former Olympic boxer and former British super fly champ Kal, clinched the Commonwealth crown last month.
He stopped Lincoln’s Bobby Jenkinson in round seven of their match in Birmingham, taking the 24-year-old’s record to nine straight wins (four inside the distance).
“Tommy’s in the gym at the moment and looking good,” added Fannan. “We’re just wating on news about this fight.”
Martin Ward is also hard at work in Fannan’s Brierton gym and is due to box at the Rainton Meadows Arena on May 28.