Martin Ward has suffered more than his fair share of blows – but he loves boxing as much as ever.
Ward faces Reynaldo Cajina at the Summer Rumble on Sunday, a six-round match a world away from his planned European Union title challenge.
“I love the game ... the day I don’t like it any more is the day I retire”MARTIN WARD
Attempts to lure holder Jeremy Parodi over to Sunderland failed, with the Frenchman digging in as he hopes to secure a shot at the European super-bantamweight belt.
A proposed 12-round non-title clash with Bobby Jenkinson then fell through and after no sub could be found, in came Cajina.
The Nicaraguan, who boxes out of Barcelona, has lost 34 of his 53 contests and is more a banana skin at the Stadium of Light than a brutal opponent.
“Parodi won’t come out and fight because he thinks he’s in line for a shot at the (full) European title,” said Ward. “You can hardly blame the lad for keeping his options open while he waits to find out.
“So it’s this now and, hopefully, Parodi in September.
“I feel great, I love the sport, love the game, that’s what I do it for, the day I don’t like it any more is the day I retire.
“But at the minute, it’s all good. I enjoy it as much as I ever have.”
Ward has every right to be happy following the rise in his stock after his British title challenge against Jazza Dickens last November.
The Scouser retained his crown via a split decision but the Neil Fannan-trained Ward emerged from the Rainton Meadows bloodbath as the people’s champion.
“I think I came out of it with a lot of new fans,” he said. “I had to dig in against Jazza, there was nothing in it, it could have gone either way.
but him being the champion people think he probably deserved it, maybe he did.
“People said to me afterwards ‘Martin, we didn’t think you could fight like that!’.
“I always knew that I could if I had to, but you don’t want to be doing those sort of fights every time, do you?
“I think I enhanced my reputation and people are giving me more credit than they did before, they know now Martin Ward is more than a fancy dancer.”
Ward’s efforts can be put into context by the fact the said Dickens next week fights Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux for the WBA title.
“Jazza has a crack at the world title against a boxer many see as one of the best pound-for-pound lads,” said Ward. “I was just a point off Jazza in a split decision - that could have been me in there with him.
“But things happen for a reason and I’m waiting on Parodi, but I must take care of this first.”
For tickets, contact Phil on 07747611020.