MARTIN Ward has been handed an international job at the Stadium of Light – but it is not the test coach Neil Fannan was hoping for.
Ward, who was stopped in his first challenge for a British title by Lee Haskins at Bristol in April, will fight Adrian Fuzesi at the Summer Rumble show on Sunday, July 7.
Fannan revealed to SportMail last month that he was desperate for a stern overseas examination of his gifted bantamweight at Sunderland’s football ground.
He has got half of what he wanted, a foreign fighter, but is unsure of his credentials.
At the age of 23, Fuzesi is clearly not past his sell-by date and still has a positive record of six wins and five defeats.
But, like many from the continent, while he is supreme in his homeland, the results on his travels are less impressive – just one win outside Hungary.
“I have been assured that it will be a good fight and I hope that is the case,” Fannan told SportMail.
“He went the full six rounds with Stuey Hall last September in Sheffield but I’ve looked at the rest of his record and it’s not great.
“I honestly like fights which worry me and this doesn’t.
“I can’t sit here and say ‘I’m looking forward to it, it’s a tough fight’ because it doesn’t seem to be.
“In some ways the easier the contest looks the more risky it is.
“There is a danger if you don’t take it seriously that you could come unstuck.
“But it’s not really the bout I was looking for, it just doesn’t have that fear factor.
“As a boxer, and trainer, one of the best things you can have is the worry that you could lose.
“It brings out the best in a fighter.
“Martin has come back into the gym with an even better, more determined, attitude following the Haskins fight.
“But I really wanted a challenge that was really going to test him and that does not look the case with this lad.”
For all Fannan’s frustration, the Hartlepool coach is looking forward to seeing him in the ring again.
Ward showed glimpses against Haskins that he has the top-line quality, before the European number one stopped him with a stunning fifth-round assault.
“Even though he was defeated, I think he came out of the fight with his reputation having been strengthened,” Fannan said.
“And it has not damaged his confidence in any way.
“If he sticks at this game, I know he’ll win a title and, more importantly, he knows it too.”
That loss at the Bristol City Academy is one of only two blemishes on a record that shows 16 victories.
While Martin is closing in on 20 pro bouts, younger brother Tommy is about to tackle his fourth.
The 18-year-old has won all three to date and he too will be on the undercard of the Summer Rumble where, coincidentally, he made his paid debut last year.
And the North East Securities-sponsored boxer is looking good according to his trainer.
A cut eye ruled him out of a planned appearance in Scarborough last month but he has come through his first spar since his injury unscathed.
“He was in with Anthony ‘Babyface’ Nelson,” explained Fannan.
“Tommy boxed really well, I think because of the cut he was wary of being hit so his reactions and movement were very good.”
The brothers box on a bumper promotion which also features local star Peter Cope and debutants Mick Hadfield and Anth Hardy.
FOR tickets, contact Neil on 07891101399