TOMMY Ward reached double figures as a pro boxer – but the young prospect did not quite see it as the perfect 10.
The Hartlepool boxer defeated Jamie Quinn over four rounds on the undercard of Anthony Nelson’s English super-flyweight title victory over Terry Broadbent at South Shields yesterday.
Ward had originally been matched with Esham Pickering and the appeal of meeting and beating the former British, Commonwealth and European champion was massive to the 20-year-old.
But come Saturday morning, Ward was called to say that the ex-triple champ would not be turning up, Stockport lightweight Quinn agreeing to step in at the last minute.
Ward, to his credit, came good after a slow start to win the opening bout at the Steve Wraith-promoted show 39-37 on the scorecard of referee Mark Curry.
However, the Neil Fannan-trained featherweight could not hide his disappointment to miss the chance of a potential big breakthrough against the boxer known as Brown Sugar.
“It was very frustrating,” said the younger brother of Martin.
“I’d heard rumours that he’d wanted more money, but I thought that had been sorted out.
“Neil rang me on Saturday morning to say the Pickering fight was off and he was ringing around to get someone else.
“Quinn was all right, but he’s a lightweight and a big lad.
“I’d been looking forward to boxing Pickering and it would have been a good name on my record.”
Quinn came into the bout a weight division heavier than Ward and with his size advantage he clearly was not fazed by the prospect of tackling the gifted home star.
Ward looked neat enough, but Quinn fired off the harder punches to take the first round.
But Ward was soon into his stride moving smartly before rattling off several combinations to the body of the 24-year-old, from Cheshire.
He ended the session with a cut above his left eye and may be that encouraged Quinn to come forward in the third.
But he was made to miss by Ward whose movement and quick combinations saw him take the lead in the contest.
And round four was just as impressive, connecting with some nice lefts to the body especially.
“I was devastated not to be fighting Pickering so that was may be why I couldn’t get up for the first round,” Ward said.
“When I came back to the corner, Neil said ‘just make him miss’.
“That was the key. I started to put some nice, smooth combinations together.
“He was massive, too big to walk down, so I used my boxing skills and it went well.”
The top-of-the-bill fight saw Nelson outpoint Leeds ace Broadbent in a thriller.
His brilliant 10-round success puts him in contention for the British championship which is vacant following Paul Butler’s move up to world level.
“I’d love to box for the British title,” he said after winning 97-93, 98-93 and 97-95 on the judges scorecards.
“I’m certainly in the mix now and if it comes around I’ll be ready for it.”
A title fight may yet be arranged in South Shields after yesterday’s event, in front of a near full-house, proved a resounding success.