Tommy Ward can move closer to a world title shot next month with a WBO championship eliminator in the United States.
The unbeaten Co Durham talent takes on America’s Jesse Angel Hernandez in Kansas on Friday, February 15.
Ward is rated at four with the World Boxing Organisation, 11 places ahead of the Texan, who has broken onto the scene in 2017-18 with a string of wins on Showtime.
It promises to be some fight and it is some opportunity for the 24-year-old who makes his US debut following 25 straight wins in the UK.
Manager, Dave Garside, and coach, Neil Fannan, are thrilled to have tied up this deal for one of our country’s most naturally gifted boxers after a planned IBF eliminator with Mexico’s Cesar Juarez failed to materialise.
“It’s a great opening for Tommy,” Fannan told punch-lines.
“He’s as good a super-bantamweight as there is out there so we’re looking forward to this.
“Tommy had Christmas Day off but that aside he’s trained all the way through the festive period and he’s looking great.
“Dave has brought two Ghanaians to Hartlepool for sparring – Jesse looks a strong lad so we’re making sure Tommy has the best preparations.
“This is a fight we’ve sorted ourselves – we don’t have a big promoter in our corner.
“But it’s a good deal for Tommy and a great opportunity.”
The NE Security and O’Tooles-sponsored star boasts a 100 per cent record, with three wins in 2018, international stoppage victories over Lesther Cantillano and Tom Tran sandwiching an IBF European title triumph over Spanish champ Alvaro Rodriguez.
Hernandez, a 28-year-old from Fort Worth, has a very promising record, winning 12 of his 13 bouts, with seven via stoppage, including a fifth-round KO of previously unbeaten Russian Vladimir Tikhonov in 2017.
“He’s rated with both the WBO and IBF so obviously he is good,” added Fannan. “I’ve seen he has been tagged as a one to watch for 2019.
“It’s the top of the bill, it’s 10 rounds and it looks a real good fight.
“We are over there so we know we can’t just nick the rounds, we are going to have to win them well.”
Jesse’s promoter, Dmitriy Salita, told worldboxingnews.net that he believed Hernandez was set for a “great 2019”.
He said: “Jesse is one of the best and most exciting fighters in the super-bantamweight division.
“His aggressive, exciting style and world-class body punching make him a real attraction in this environment.
“Jesse is a Mexican American with a growing fan base. The sky is the limit for him.”
Words: Roy Kelly Picture: Simon Stacpoole