MARTIN Ward is back in boxing’s title picture.
The British Boxing Board of Control have nominated the gifted Hartlepool fighter for a British super-bantamweight championship final eliminator with Lewis Pettitt.
I do feel that Martin is coming to his peak now
Ward has lost just twice in a 22-fight career while his rival, from Kent, has won 15 out of 16 and is the current WBA inter-continental belt holder.
The BBBC have asked for purse bids for the contest and the winner would meet the victor of Josh Wale v James Dickens showdown for the vacant title next Friday in Liverpool.
It is exciting news for Ward who has moved up to super-bantam after being the Commonwealth champ at bantamweight and a challenger for Stuart Hall’s IBF world crown.
Coach Neil Fannan is thrilled to have the 26-year-old, who boxes at Houghton next Sunday on the Colossal bill, so close to a crack at another championship.
“The Board have ordered a final eliminator with Lewis Pettitt for the British super-bantamweight title and hopefully it will come off,” Fannan told SportMail.
“But you never always know for sure in this game.
“Pettitt already has an international title and I don’t know whether his people are looking to pursue another route.
“Most fighters fancy getting hold of a Lonsdale Belt but you don’t know, a British title might not be in their plans.
“But it’s in our plans and we’ll have to see what happens when the purse bids close next month.”
Fannan says Pettitt, from Erith, is a good fighter but his style would play into the hands of a sharp counter-attacker like Ward.
“Pettitt is all right,” he said.
“He’s a come-forward fighter and, to be truthful, it would suit Martin down to the ground.
“When his name was put forward I was over the moon.
“But that’s not to say I would take anything for granted.
“I’ve seen loads of times over the years when you put a title or, in this case, a chance of a title in front of a fighter, they raise their game.
“But I do feel that Martin is coming to his peak now.”
Evidence of that said Fannan came when he took the Dave Garside-managed southpaw to spar with IBF World super flyweight title challenger Paul Butler in Manchester.
The super-sharp Butler was the man who ended Hall’s reign as IBF bantam champ.
“They asked us for some sparring after someone cried off,” said Fannan.
“It was a last-minute thing but Martin said ‘I’ll do it’.
“At one time he might moan about sparring but now he just gets on with it.
“He’s matured, he takes everything in his stride now.
“I took him down last week to spar with Paul and Butler and his people couldn’t believe how much he’s come on.
“They did 10 rounds and Martin looked great.
“He enjoying his training and he’s lookin forward for challenging for titles.”
First up for Ward is a six-rounder on next Sunday’s Colossal show at Rainton Meadows Arena.
He will be joined on the bill by unbeaten brother Tommy, who will fight over the same distance.