Martin Ward loves boxing.
And the Hartlepool fighter’s love affair with the sport reaches it’s 30th date this Saturday when he challenges for the European title.
Spain’s Abigail Medina arrived in town in the early hours of this morning ahead of his maiden defence of the super-bantamweight belt at the Borough Hall on Saturday night.
Victory at the atmospheric Headland venue would provide the crowning glory to the career of the skilful southpaw, who is an ex- English and Commonwealth champion and former British and World challenger.
But to Ward, it’s just another opportunity to do what he does best – show off his boxing talents.
The 29-year, from Co Durham, is as articulate outside the ring as he is gifted inside it – there is none of the tawdry behaviour you have seen and heard before some high-profile events.
Ward aims to out-box Medina – out-fight him if he needs to – but he says it’s all about the enjoyment factor, if he’s enjoying it that will bring out the best in him.
“To win the European title in the same venue the great Hartlepool fighter Michael Hunter did would be a dream come true,” he said.
“But the belts and any money that comes with it are just a bonus.
“I just love boxing. It’s a sport I love. I don’t get much money from it, I’m not on the TV shows so I’m not getting paid the money I probably should have been getting for the fights I’ve had.
“But that doesn’t bother me.
“It would be nice to add the European belt to the Commonwealth one I have.
“But enjoying boxing is what it’s all about for me.
“People say ‘it’s a big fight’ or a ‘pressure fight’ – not to me. I boxed Stuey Hall for his world title at the North East’s biggest venue and I came out smiling and dancing. It’s what I do.
“There are a lot of pressure things in life – like bringing up a family.
“Boxing? That’s an easy job, it’s what I love doing.”
The Neil Fannan-trained boxer is an artist within that square ring, moving beautifully and landing sharp shots, without getting hit.
It’s a style which has served the NES Securities-sponsored star well through out his 29-bout career.
And it will need to again at the Borough Hall. Medina, also 29, is a successful operator, who won the vacant European title earlier this year with a one-sided points victory over France’sa Jeremy Parodi in Gran Canaria.
Ward says he has full respect for the title holder, but believes he’s got what it takes to beat the Barcelona-based fighter.
“Medina is a sharp-shooter, looks for single counters, big looping right hands,” said the Dave Garside-managed southpaw. “He wouldn’t be European champion if he couldn’t box a little bit!
“He’s good but, as I’ve always said, on my night I’m as good as anyone. So when Saturday comes, I don’t see why not.”
Tickets are still available for the show. Contact Neil on 07891101399.