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After moving a step back last April when he lost to Lee Haskins for the British title, Martin Ward will look to take two career steps forward on December 7 when he boxes Gabriel Odoi Laryea for the Commonwealth bantamweight title at Newcastle’s Centre for Sport.
After good wins against former domestic rulers Jason Booth and Ian Napa, County Durham’s Ward got his shot at the big time against Haskins but was stopped in five rounds. No regrets, Martin is taking the positives from the defeat and insists he is a better fighter for it.
“I thought everything was going to plan,” recalled Martin, who has lost just two fights in 19 contests. “I knew Lee would start fast and thought I was starting to get into the fight just when it got stopped. Don’t get me wrong it was a good shot but I just thought the referee stopped it at the wrong point and I started to slip shots when he ended it.
“So I felt a bit hard done by but, like I’ve said to a lot of people, losing to Lee Haskins is no disgrace. He’s beaten Jamie McDonnell who’s been a world champion, and he’s beaten Stuart Hall who’s fighting for the world title. There are a few things I’ve learned though and hopefully I’ll put it right on Saturday night.”
If he is to get back to British title level again then Ward needs success against Odoi Laryea. The Ghanaian is an unknown quantity, who will be having his first fight outside his home country, but the man from Accra has plenty of KOs on his record and Martin knows he cannot be underestimated.
“All fights are important, even if it’s a six-rounder, you want to win them all. But with a title on the line it’s a fight with more prestige because everyone wants to win belts. If I can win the Commonwealth it will put me right back in the mix and hopefully get me a rematch with Lee [Haskins] which would be ideal as everyone wants to win a Lonsdale Belt.
“I don’t know anything about him [Odoi Laryea], but looking at his record he looks a bit of a banger having knocked out 11 of the 16 wins he’s had. I’m just going to get in there and do my job properly.”
Ringstar Promotions’ boss, Mark Clauzel stated: “This will be a great fight. Martin’s very skilful but he’ll have to be on his toes for this fight. If he can pick up this title then he’s right back up there again and there should be more big fights for him in the future.”
Ringstar Promotions presents Martin Ward contesting the vacant Commonwealth bantamweight championship against Gabriel Odoi Laryea at Newcastle’s Centre for Sport on December 7. The undercard will feature Hartlepool’s Peter Cope; Horden’s Anthony Hardy; South Shields’ Anthony Nelson; Newcastle’s Andrew Buchanan; County Durham’s Tommy Ward; Gateshead’s Rob Ismay; Northumberland’s Lewis Scott, and Sunderland’s Danny Hughes.