HOME advantage will mean more to Martin Ward than just the fact that every punch will be cheered to the rafters at Newcastle’s Centre for Sport.
Ward will have the benefit of a partizan crowd behind him for his crack at the vacant Commonwealth bantamweight title against Ghana’s Gabriel Laryea.
But, more important for the 25-year-old, he will have his family around him until just before he goes into battle with his rival, who will be the small matter of 3,200 miles away from home.
Some fighters do not like their loved ones around them before a contest as they get their ‘fighting head’ on.
But not Ward.
The Neil Fannan and Dave Garside star loves being surrounded by family – his partner, Sam and their two children, Savannah, aged seven, and Tiffany, aged three.
He is close to brothers, Tommy and Jimmy, while Martin and his family live not even a stone’s throw from his parents.
Even though his British championship challenge at Bristol was only 275 miles away, he still felt the distance.
“It will make a difference having the home support,” Ward told SportMail.
“I will have a lot of family and friends here, screaming and shouting, making a lot of noise.
“But the big difference for me will be the routine I have every day.
“I will be at home and have my missus or mam cooking for me and they know what I like.
“I like having my family around me, my partner, my girls, my mam and dad and brothers.
“Down in Bristol there was only me and Neil.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like Neil, he’s a very friend as well as my coach.
“But when I’m with my family they take my mind away from the fight, my kids are running around and making me laugh.
“So for six or seven hours you can actually forget about the fight, the fact you have a battle to go to.
“When you are away it’s all you think about.
“Being at home, being around the people I love will be a massive help.
“I think when I was in Bristol I ended up thinking about Haskins and how good he was, instead of thinking how good I was.
“I may be gave him a little bit too much respect.”
Ward believes – and hopes – that Laryea could feel the same way he did when he was in Bristol waiting for Saturday’s bout to come around.
“He’s come a long way over here and he’ll be thinking about me,” Ward said.
“He’s away from home in a foreign country with up to a couple of thousand people cheering for his opponent.
“Everything that went through my mind before the Haskins fight will hopefully be going through his.
“The biggest thing for me will be to be around my family and going about a normal day.
“That will be a big factor.”
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