TOMMY Ward is moving closer to title contention after registering win number nine as a professional.
The Hartlepool boxer extended his sequence in Doncaster, where he defeated Antonio Horvatic on points, referee Michael Alexander awarding him every one of the four rounds.
Trainer Neil Fannan is excited by the talent he and manager Dave Garside have in their gym but admits the exciting young product needs extending.
Three of Ward’s last three opponents could be described as “live” but each have been beaten with relative ease.
With Fannan hoping for an English championship challenge next year he wants a rival who will test the 20-year-old, starting with next month’s date at South Shields.
“Horvatic was a tough, game lad and he came and had a go,” said Fannan.
“Tommy is too good, he needs a step up in class.
“To be fair, he has had a few of those fights already – at the time of the boys he’s been in with have been right for him.
“But we need a better opponent now.”
Ward was at the first press conference today for the Winner Takes All show, headlined by Anthony Nelson’s English title fight against Terry Broadbent at Temple Park.
“Tommy has matured into a good fighter and he needs a decent contest,” said Fannan.
“He is going to box on the Steve Wraith show in South Shields and we must get him a half-tidy opponent and over six rounds.
“If he gets up to 10 wins there then I think we will be looking at a English title fight after that.”
The North East Securities sponsored featherweight will go into the bill on Sunday, October 12 full of confidence.
Horvatic came to Doncaster Dome at the weekend with a fair, rather than feared record of four wins from 10 starts.
Three of the wins had come by stoppage meaning Ward could take no liberties and the younger brother of world title challenger Martin was too slick and skilful.
“Tommy boxed very, very well,” said Fannan.
“Horvatic was a live opponent, as soon as the bell went you could see he was trying. But Tommy was too good for him.
“He had been disappointed by his last bout with [Michael] Ramabeletsa, he’d stood and traded and he didn’t know why.
“But he learned from it.
“Against Horvatic he just boxed and really looked the part.
“In the third round, he hurt the lad to the body and in the last I think if he’d stepped it up he could have stopped him.
“But at the end of the fight he came back to the corner and said he’d gone for speed instead of power, he was enjoying it that much I don’t think he wanted to stop him.”