MARTIN Ward can’t wait for tomorrow night’s world title challenge – to prove people wrong.
The talented Hartlepool southpaw faces Darlington’s Stuart Hall in one of the biggest boxing events ever staged in the North-East.
Hall starts as the favourite to retain his IBF banatmweight belt at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena.
But Ward, who earned his shot at the prestigious International Boxing Federation’s version of the belt by winning the Commonwealth title back in December is irked by the huge tide of opinion behind Hall.
“I read the Boxing News today and they more or less said ‘Ward will have done well if he survives the 12 rounds’,” he told SportMail.
“I don’t think the Boxing News are alone in that view.
“But if people think I’m just going to turn up, get on my bike just to get through the 12 rounds then they don’t know what they are talking about.
“I’m going there to win that title.
“Do you think a trainer like Neil Fannan would allow one of his fighters to just survive in a world title challenge?
“If I did that he’d never let me through his gym door ever again.
“I’ll get knocked out if I have to, I’ll give it everything. I’ll go out on my badge.”
The contest looks like being a great spectacle – hard-hitting warrior Hall coming up against the slick boxer Ward.
Hall has come under the radar to a certain extent, taking full advantage of Jamie McDonnell’s fall-out with his manager and promoter, Dennis Hobson, and the IBF.
The Doncaster fighter was stripped of his title and Hall earned his shot at the vacant crown when he beat talented American, Sergio Perales, in a very close contest for the IBF inter-continental belt.
Hall, in Roy of the Rovers fashion, then defeated South African hardcase Vusi Malinga in Leeds last December to become only the second major world champion from the North-East – at the age of 33.
While Ward acknowledges Hall’s achievements, he believes Malinga was tailor-made for the Darlington scrapper.
“People are writing me off all the time,” said the 26-year-old.
“Why? Who has Stuart Hall beaten who I couldn’t beat?
“Sergio Perales is a good fighter, Malinga is a good fighter. I believe I would beat Malinga all day long.
“Perales is a different kettle of fish, but I feel he beat Stu anyway even though Hall got the decision.
“Lee Haskins schooled him, Jamie McDonnell schooled him.
“It’s a bit stupid to write me off and people who don’t know about boxing are saying Stuey Hall will do a job on me in four or five rounds.
“That’s pathetic. They’ve not seen me fight if they think like that and it’s starting to wind me up a bit to be honest.
“Obviously I’m not going to get wound up and stand and have a war with him – I believe he wants that.
“I’m going to do what Haskins, McDonnell and Perales all did to him – box him and school him.
“He will get so frustrated, he lets that right hand go wild, and gets picked off.
“He’s a one-trick pony, come forward and get stuck in.
“People think Martin Ward can only run away and box.
“I’m in there to do what I do best – hit and not get hit.
“I’ll hit him every time he gets in front of me and then I’ll be away, simple as that.”