TOMMY Ward left the Metro Radio Arena a frustrated young man.
But the Hartlepool-trained featherweight left it a better fighter.
Ward, just turned 20, recorded his best win of his highly promising career when he outpointed Michael Ramabeletsa on the undercard of the massive triple title show in Newcastle.
In the immediate aftermath of the testing six-rounder against the tough South African, the Neil Fannan and Dave Garside prospect rated it a “terrible” performance.
Elder brother Martin, the Commonwealth champion at bantamweight, was even more scathing.
The Ward siblings have high standards and when they don’t reach them, there is little chance of consoling them.
It was not a bad performance.
Not good in parts may be, but certainly not bad.
Tommy went into the professional game at the age of 17 on the back of a glittering junior career, but Saturday’s 59-55 win over Ramabeletsa was only his eighth in adult boxing.
It was his eighth win and under the guidance of Fannan and Garside, he is going in the right direction - up.
For Tommy, it’s all about learning and improving.
While Ramabeletsa momentarily gave him a jolt in the first, the opening two rounds were pretty much all Ward as he used his jab to good effect and scored with other sharp lefts to the 32-year-old’s head.
But in round three Ward, like flicking a light switch, turned off his jab and while there were still some decent shots, he’d invited the Soweto-born fighter into the contest.
And Ramabeletsa joined the fray in the fifth.
Ward was too static, too open, too easy to hit. And Ramabeletsa hit him again and again.
However, and here’s another positive for the youngster, his chin stood firm and it was tested on numerous occasions.
At this point, Ward appeared to be in a bit of bother, but after a rollicking from Fannan, the Co Durham boxer regained his composure in the final three minutes, employing his jab again and doing some sharp work on the inside.
It made sure there was no way back for Ramabeletsa and referee Mark Curry gave Ward the bout by five rounds to one.
“I could have been way better,” Ward told SportMail.
“It was just one of those nights, a bad performance but I am thankful I came away with the win.
“I won comfortably but I did make it hard for myself, doing silly things, like leaning in a bit and trying too hard.
“I tried to make it a fight instead of using my boxing and I rate my boxing skills as good as anyone’s.
“I will learn from this and guarantee I will be 10 times better the next time out.”
One drawback for Ward was he suffered a cut to his left eye in the fifth, which required five stitches and puts in doubt his appearance at the Summer Rumble next month in Sunderland.
Fannan, while not thrilled with the display, was not looking on the downside.
“It was a good bout and a good learning fight for Tommy,” he said. “It was a step up for him.
“He was boxing nice and it was if he got bored and then went a little gung ho.
“Tommy gave us a few scares because Ramabeletsa knows how to swing a couple of decent shots.
“When we took the match I never once thought it was an easy fight.
“Tommy has come a long way and I do have high hopes for him.
“He answered some questions, like his punch resistance, and he is improving all the time.”