NEIL Fannan believes Tommy Ward will face a “fired up” Esham Pickering next weekend.
The undefeated Hartlepool fighter is looking to make it 10 wins as a professional when he meets the former British, Commonwealth and European champion over six rounds at South Shields.
On paper, Ward would appear to be too young, too fresh and too quick in what appears to be a classic shoot-out between the young gun and ageing gunslinger.
But Fannan has genuine respect for the 38-year-old who he fears will be out to prove a point at Temple Park a week tomorrow.
The last time Fannan was in the opposite corner to the Newark fighter was the dramatic night Michael Hunter clinched the British, Commonwealth and European super-bantamweight belts in 2005.
Pickering downed Hunter in the first and second rounds and it looked like being a sweet night for the boxer known as “Brown Sugar”.
However, Hunter climbed off the canvas both times and launched a ferocious comeback to win the unification battle on points.
Pickering complained he was robbed and Fannan thinks the sight of him in the home corner will spur on the 38-year-old.
“I do believe Pickering will fire himself up for this one,” said the Hartlepool coach. “I’m sure what’s gone on before will be in his mind.
“I’m sure Michael will be there watching and there will be some banter beforehand.
“All this stuff will only add to what’s a great bout.”
Pickering may well have lost his zip, but Fannan is aware of the old saying that the last thing a fighter loses is his punch.
But if The Dave Garside-managed prospect boxes as he knows he can then he should be too sharp for the Newark fighter.
“Pickering can hit,” said Fannan. “I read the report in Boxing News of his comeback fight earlier in the year,
“It said it was a watcheable and very competitive fight and I expect that next Sunday.
“Pickering won’t be as sharp as he once was but he has loads of experience.
“Boxers like him can sucker people in and Tommy’s going to have to be on the ball.”
The youngest of the Ward brothers has just become a father for the first time, wife Chantelle having a baby boy.
But despite feeling on top of the world, the 20-year-old remains as focused as ever on his fighting.
“Tommy’s life is boxing and he’s convinced he can go a long way and his missus and family feels the same.
“It’s great they’ve had a baby but sometimes, speaking as a coach, you are wary when your boxer becomes a dad, especially the first one.
“But he has taken this in his stride.
“When he got married, his form didn’t dip, and I don’t think it will now.
“He is fully focused on his boxing and I know his wife will make sure he gets his sleep ahead of this big fight.”
For ticket info, call Neil on 07891101399