MARTIN Ward is looking to beat Isaac Owusu on his “way back to the top” – providing he avoids the African’s left hand.
The Hartlepool boxer tomorrow makes his first appearance since a cut eye ended his IBF world bantamweight title challenge in Newcastle in March.
Stuart Hall retained his belt via a technical draw and now Ward, recovered from the wound which required 15 stitches, makes his return.
The 26-year-old takes on Owusa at Houghton tomorrow when they meet over six rounds at the Cream of the Crop promotion, Ward’s first excursion at super-bantam.
Owusu has lost his last two bouts in the UK, including a Commonwealth title eliminator, but the southpaw’s record is an impressive one, 18 of his 23 victories coming by KO.
“He’s got a decent record,” Ward told SportMail.
“His last result wasn’t great [a stoppage defeat] but he’ll be looking to get back on track and I’m wanting to do the same.
“It should be a good fight and obviously it’s the first one at super-bantam.
“I don’t want to look past anyone and I’ve trained hard for Isaac and respect him.
“But I’m looking at this as a way back to the top.
“You have to start somewhere and this is a good start for me.”
And Ward, who hopes the step up in division will see him at his sharpest, says he will be as quick defensively as he is going forward at Rainton Meadows Arena.
The 29-year-old Ghana champ comes with a brutal reputation in Africa.
“It’ll be a left hand I need to watch for, but you can’t knock out what you can’t hit,” smiled the Neil Fannan and Dave Garside boxer.
“Hopefully, with a bit of luck, he won’t be hitting me with it many times.”
Ward has his sights set on a Commonwealth championship challenge in 2015.
He abdicated the bantamweight throne he took last year with a points victory over Gabriel Laryea in Newcastle.
“We didn’t lose the Commonwealth belt in the ring, so hopefully I should get an eliminator or a shot at the super-bantamweight,” said the NES Security-sponsored talent.
“I’ve had six months out of the ring and last time I didn’t even do two, so it’s basically a year since I had a proper bout.
“I need the fight and need to get the rounds in.
“This is the starting point of a new chapter.”
Brother Tommy also has a six-rounder on the bill against Swindon’s Joe Beedon as he aims tro make it 11 wins in a row.
The show features a number of unbeaten North-East stars, like the Peterlee-trained duo, Glenn Foot and Jonson McClumpha.
l TICKETS are available on the door at the venue. Doors open at 12.30pm with the first bout to start around 1.30pm.