MARTIN Ward and his team will have no fears about a British championship confrontation with Jamie McDonnell.
That was the view today of Neil Fannan who, with manager Dave Garside and promoter Phil Jeffries, has guided Ward to a tilt at the bantamweight title, which is currently in McDonnell’s possession.
The smart money is that Ward v McDonnell will not take place, not for the Lonsdale Belt anyway.
McDonnell has been instructed by the British Boxing Board of Control to defend his 8st 6lb crown against the slick Hartlepool-trained star before the end of January and the purse bids have already opened on this contest.
But the 26-year-old, from Doncaster, has an IBF world title eliminator in Sheffield next Saturday against South Africa’s Vusi Malinga.
“If Jamie wins he’s got a world title fight to look forward,” Fannan told SportMail.
“I’m sure he’ll relinquish his British belt and the Board will nominate someone to fight Martin for the vacant title.
“Whatever happens, we’re in a good position – Martin is guaranteed a British championship fight and I’m confident he’ll do it.”
Should McDonnell slip up at the Motorpoint Arena against the 32-year-old from Johannesburg the Yorkshireman could well tackle Ward.
And if that happens there are no concerns for Fannan, despite the quality of the champion.
McDonnell is good, very good in fact, as he proved when he outpointed Darlington’s Stuart Hall in a British, Commonwealth and European title treble in Doncaster last year.
Fannan, ironically, was in the beaten corner, assisting Hall’s coach Michael Marsden, the Hartlepool fight figure’s long-time friend.
“Jamie doesn’t do anything which puts me off,” Fannan explained.
“I have respect for him but Martin is as good a bantamweight as anyone in this country.
“He’s looked tremendous so far but I also know that he’s not boxed to his full potential yet.
“Martin is still getting better all the time but I’m not sure how much improvement there is left to come in Jamie.
“I do believe Martin Ward will give anyone a fight.
“I’m just so pleased he’s got a chance to fight for the title.
“If it is Jamie I won’t be upset.
“I know the tougher the fighter the better Martin will box – a little bit of fear will bring out the best in him.
“It’s the same for me as a trainer, these are the fights I want too, I’d love the challenge.”
SEE Saturday’s Mail for full story