Hartlepool’s Martin Ward fights Cristian Rodriguez for European Union title

EU title challenger Martin Ward
EU title challenger Martin Ward

Martin Ward will have home advantage when he fights for the European Union title. rd

The gifted Hartlepool boxer takes on Spain’s Cristian Rodriguez for the vacant super-bantamweight belt on Saturday, March 4.

It looks an absolutely top-line fight between two very good boxers


Promoter Phil Jeffries has clinched the contest and has earmarked Houghton’s Rainton Meadows Arena as the likely venue.

With Ward’s younger brother, Tommy, the mandatory challenger to British super-bantamweight champion, James “Jazza” Dickens, these are exciting times for the siblings and the men who have guided their careers, coach Neil Fannan and manager Dave Garside.

“I’m over the moon to be putting this show on,” said Jeffries.

“It looks an absolutely top-line fight between two very good boxers and it’s a brilliant chance for Martin to put another belt around his waist.”

The elder Ward has not been shy of success, winning the English and Commonwealth crowns down at bantamweight.

A badly cut eye ruined his bid to be the IBF world champion against Stuart Hall and his crack at the British super-bantam title turned into a bloodbath, ironically against Dickens, losing on a split decision.

“Martin deserves a bit of good luck, because he’s had tons of bad luck,” added Jeffries.

“He’s one of the most naturally gifted boxers we’ve had up here and I’m glad he’s getting the chance at home.”

It is not going to be a cakewalk for the 28-year-old, who has lost only three times in 28 appearances.

His opponent, from Tenerife, has won nine of his 10 bouts, four of his victories coming inside the distance.

The 26-year-old though will be coming out of his comfort zone – the Spain and IBF Mediterranean champ has never boxed outside Spanish territory with all but one of his bouts being staged in the Canary Islands.

Fannan, who has coached Ward from day one of his pro career, said: “Martin wants big nights and he wants to be fighting for titles, so he is very excited for this.

“I am fully confident in him, wherever the contest is, but it’s nice to have home advantage.

“We’ll be working through Christmas in the gym with Tommy’s British title challenge coming up as well.”