Oh brother: Fannan and Garside think 2017 can be the year of the Wards

Tommy Ward

Tommy Ward

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Neil Fannan and Dave Garside hope 2017 is the year that the Wards clinch super-bantamweight glory.

The Hartlepool-trained boxing brothers both operate in the very competitive 8st 10lb division, which was once the domain of their greatest star, Michael Hunter, who ruled Britain, the Commonwealth and Europe when he was in his pomp.

Tommy, 22, will fight British champion Jazza Dickens before the end of February, while Martin, 28, is currently in the queue for a shot at the European title.

It is an exciting time for the Wards and the Brierton gym, especially with Daniel Cope having just clinched the Northern Area welterweight belt.

“I’m a great believer that success breeds success,” said Fannan, who guided Cope to victory over Tom Whitfield at Ashinton and Tommy to a KO against ex-Olympian Norbert Kalucza.

“A lot of work has gone in and it’s been nice to see that rewarded.

“Where there’s a win or two, that seems to rub off on everyone in the gym and all the lads up their game.

“We had two good wins last weekend, with Danny and Tommy, and now we’ll move on again.”

Tommy will not box now until his challenge for Scouser Dickens’ belt.

Purse bids for the contest close on November 9 and Garside is almost certain to put in a bid to bring the Hartlepool v Liverpool clash to the area.

“Tommy was brilliant last week, probably the best I’ve seen him,” Garside told SportMail.

“He’s sparred world champions and matched them – he is incredible. We have every confidence in him against Dickens.”

But the manager added that he is looking forward to seeing Martin press on for championship success on the continent.

The North-East Securities-sponsored southpaw is rated number three by the European Boxing Union and Garside hopes 2017 will be the year his fortunes turn.

“Martin’s had absolutely no luck,” said the former top-line heavyweight and cruiser.

“When he fought Lee Haskins for the British [bantamweight] title he got stopped by what the referee should have called a foul blow. His world title shot was stopped after a round on a cut and he lost when he challenged Dickens on a split decision.

“If there is any justice, Martin will be a champion next year.”

The elder sibling is likely to box a 10-round international contest in Houghton on December 3 to keep him primed and ready for a European opening,