Wards warm-up for British, European title challenges with easy wins, Cope frustrated by draw
The Ward brothers warmed up for their summer assaults on major championship challenges in smooth fashion at Houghton.
Tommy and Martin Ward enjoyed effortless six-round points wins over Baltic opposition, though it was not a clean sweep for the Neil Fannan gym as Daniel Cope was held to a draw.
Younger sibling Tommy, who will have a crack at British super-bantamweight king Jazza Dickens in Leeds on May 13, controlled matters throughout against Simas Volosinas, from Lithuania.
Referee Andrew Wright marked it a 60-54 shut-out.
So did Steve Hawkins when he took charge of Martin’s match against Latvia’s Dimitrijs Gutmans.
Trainer Neil Fannan said: “I was happy when the final bell went in both fights.
“When Volosinas started the way he did I said to myself ‘Neil, why did you get him a warm-up?’.
“But Tommy said he wanted to be on the show and I suppose from a boxer’s perspective, you train to fight.
“He looked well and I was just pleased at the final bell that there were no cuts, no injury.”
It was the 22-year-old’s 20th win while Martin clinched victory number 25, a success he dedicated to a man he labelled his “number one fan”, the late Kenny Hobson.
The 28-year-old needed the minutes inside the ropes, having not fought since the Summer Rumble at the Stadium of Light last July.
Martin, who is due to face reigning European super-bantam champion Abigail Medina, won at a canter.
Ward’s southpaw right jab connected with Gutmans at will, landing with numerous left to the body, the final two rounds proving his best.
“Martin knew he needed a work-out and he got what he wanted,” said Fannan. “It’s understandable he was a bit rusty, given how long he’s been out.”
Cope was left frustrated by a 38-38 result with Midlands veteran Kevin McCauley, who looked as bemused as anyone when Mr Hawkins held up both boxers’ hands at the end of a lively four-rounder.
While the 28-year-old was upset, it was no rip-off. This reporter marked it 39-38 to the Poolie but could see how the official could not separate them.
McCauley landed the more meaningful shots in the first and the second was close with the 37-year-old intent on making sure the Northern Area champion did not have it all his own way.
Cope did find his range in rounds three and four, which he won convincingly, but he was made to pay for a slow start.
“It’s a little bit my fault,” said Fannan. “I’ve been trying to take some of the urgency out of him, making sure he doesn’t rush.
“I still couldn’t see how he didn’t win, but I don’t think this will do him any harm, it’ll probably spark him into life in his next contest.”