Martin Ward will top the bill at the Summer Rumble for the second time when he boxes at the Stadium of Light next month.
The Hartlepool-trained talent will meet former Commonwealth champion Bobby Jenkinson over 12 rounds at the home of Sunderland AFC on July 10.
My fight with Bobby would have been ideal for the EU title, but it’s still a great bout, a crowd-pleaser and one I must winMARTIN WARD
Just like his debut Summer Rumble debut back in 2011, it is a non-title fight.
But it is just as significant.
Five years ago, the gifted southpaw enjoyed a breakthrough win over the wily Londoner Ian “Dapper” Napa and now he has another vital contest.
Ward’s team – trainer Neil Fannan, manager Dave Garside and promoter Phil Jeffries – had hoped the Sunday afternoon confrontation with Jenkinson would be for the European Union super-bantamweight title.
Team Ward had put out a challenge to the holder of the EU belt, Jeremy Parodi, after the European Boxing Union had invited purse bids for the France v England contest.
The Frenchman had intimated he was going to vacate, prompting Jeffries to set up an intriguing match between Ward and Jenkinson in the hope it would be given EU Championship status.
Alas, Parodi has dragged his heels, meaning Ward will not get to fight for the title, not yet anyway.
But the 28-year-old, with an impressive career record of 23 wins and a draw from 27 bouts, acknowledges he can’t afford to slip up against Jenkinson if he is to box for the Euro strap.
Jenkinson, from Lincoln, won the Commonwealth title last year with a stoppage win over previously-unbeaten Lewis Pettit in London, only for the 24-year-old to surrender it to ex-GB amateur star Gamal Yafai in Birmingham in March.
“Bobby is a decent kid with a great engine and is as game as they come,” Ward told SportMail. “Pettit was ahead in their fight but ran out of gas and Bobby stopped him late on – that was a great win for him.
“Gamal took him out in the sixth or the seventh.
“I respect the lad, but it’s a fight I expect to come through and win.
“I think Parodi is holding on to try to fight for the [full] European title and you can’t blame him.
“My fight with Bobby would have been ideal for the EU title, but it’s still a great bout, a crowd-pleaser and one I must win.
“I think the fans loved my British title fight with Jazza Dickens at the end of last year and I don’t think they’ll be disappointed with this one either.”