Fight figure puts money where mouth is for Hartlepool title clash

Boxer Martin Ward outside vthe Borough Hall, the venue for his European Title fight, alongside manager Dave Garside (left) and coach Neil Fannan (right). Picture STU NORTON
Boxer Martin Ward outside vthe Borough Hall, the venue for his European Title fight, alongside manager Dave Garside (left) and coach Neil Fannan (right). Picture STU NORTON

Victory for Martin Ward in his European title challenge will be more than just another championship belt for the skilful southpaw.

It will be a triumph for Hartlepool and one of the fight game’s great alliances, Neil Fannan and Dave Garside.

Fannan will be in Ward’s corner for the 30th time as the coach looks to mastermind a win over champion Abigail Medina, who makes the first defence of his super-bantamweight crown.

At ringside at Borough Hall will be the imposing figure of Dave Garside, who has managed the fortunes of Ward throughout his professional career.

Garside is stagingthe event at the famous fight venue, where, not for the first time the 54-year-old has put his money where his mouth is.

Saturday night will be the 10th major championship show Garside, successful boxerr turned successful businessman, has put on or co-promoted.

It has, it’s got to be said, cost him an arm and a leg – European title fights are an expensive business, evidenced by the fact there are so few take place on UK shores.

The purse and European Boxing Union sanction fee are both considerable, not to mention the bill of paying for and flying in the three judges and steward in charge.

But the boss of NES Securities has paid up, cheerfully it must be added, to bring big-time boxing to town.

When Garside and Fannan moved into the coaching and management side of the game in 1999, they vowed the days of Hartlepool boxers being forced to travel here, there and everywhere for title shots were a thing of the past.

Garside had been a top contender at heavyweight and cruiser, but his two challenges for British and Commonwealth crowns were both in London and ended in defeat.

But when his boxer, Michael Hunter, won his first honour, a version of a world belt against Sweden’s Frankie de Milo, it was in Hartlepool and Garside promoted it.

He did the same for Hunter at the Borough Hall when he won and defended the British super-bantamweight championship three times.

Garside assisted Matchroom when Hunter won and defended the European super-bantam title – coincidentally the belt Ward is attempting to take from Medina – plus Michael’s failed attempt at the IBF world title, against Steve Molitor.

“Dave has been brilliant from day one,” said associate Fannan. “He has backed his boxers every step of the way.

“When the EBU proposed Martin as the challenger, Dave said he’d put the fight on and wanted it in the Borough Hall he’s been true to his word.

“It’s cost him a helluva lot of money but there has never been a question over him doing it.

“I want to win on Saturday for myself, and I want Martin to get the title win I think he deserves.

“Most of all I want it to be a great night for Dave. He’s put a lot of money into Martin and Tommy Ward.

“Tommy’s a brilliant talent, but I do believe the way he’s been managed and matched has had a lot to do with him becoming British champion, and that’s down to Dave.

“He’s been great for me and the lads but he’s also been fantastic for Hartlepool boxing. I hope the fans back the show.”