Tommy Ward jets into Kansas on Wednesday ahead of Friday night’s massive world super-bantamweight title eliminator with coach Neil Fannan confident they have made the right decision.
World number four Ward puts his ranking on the line against Jesse Angel Hernandez, the in-form American coming into the contest 11 rungs below the unbeaten Co Durham man on the ratings ladder.
The Texan is also in the top 15 with both the IBF and WBA, but his team have gone down the World Boxing Organisation route, enticing Ward to the United States for a mouthwatering contest which will be shown in the USA on Showtime and on BoxNation in the UK.
Given the respective numbers on the ratings, it looks something of a calculated gamble by Ward, Fannan and manager Dave Garside at the Kansas Star Arena.
“They are trying to buy our ranking, that’s their hope,” Fannan told punch-lines as Team Ward come to the end of their New York stay.
“Tommy’s number four with the WBO and they obviously see him as their best route.
“But it’s the best fight on the horizon for Tommy and one I’m confident about.
“If I didn’t think we have a chance we wouldn’t be here.”
Ward, pictured right with brother Martin in New York, has won all 25 of his professional appearances while Hernandez, four years his senior at 28, has 12 victories and just the one defeat in 13 outings.
Tommy could not be in better hands than Fannan and Garside.
If the Hartlepool pair had a specialised subject on Mastermind it would be super-bantamweights.
The pair guided Michael Hunter to the British, Commonwealth and European titles at 8st 10bs, not to mention an unsuccessful tilt at the IBF world title, with Canada’s Steve Molitor spoiling the party. Hunter did win the WBF belt.
Fannan trained Argie Ward to the Commonwealth super-bantam crown, a fight promoted by Garside.
And Fannan says thoughts of Hunter tipped the scales, no pun intended, to take this challenge head on with NE Security and O’Tooles-sponsored Tommy.
“I remember years back Barry Hearn offered Michael Hunter a chance to go to train in Las Vegas for a month,” said Fannan. “I turned it down and while I know Michael had a great career, looking back now I robbed him of a memory.
“I wasn’t going to repeat that with Tommy, I would have been daft to refuse this chance to top the bill in America.
“I didn’t to look back one day in the future with any regrets.”
Words: Roy Kelly