Thomas Ward’s new year has got off to perfect start after he landed a WBO world title eliminator against America’s Jesse Angel Hernandez.
The former British super bantamweight champion will Travel stateside on Friday, February 15 to take the fight, which will be screened live on US major network Showtime.
For 24-year-old world-ranked Ward, it’s just the opportunity he has been looking for as he plots a route to a world title.
But the unbeaten Durham boxer knows he can’t underestimate Hernandez who, despite being 11 places lower than Ward in the rankings, is highly touted in the States and has made numerous television appearances.
Ward said: “I’m absolutely delighted to land this fight. This is the next step on a long journey to getting that world title, which has been the goal all along.
“It won’t be easy but if I go to America and get the win then I am next in line for a world title shot and that is the aim.
“I can’t afford to look past him though. I don’t know much about him. I leave that to my team. But I do know he’s a quality operator and has a little hype over there so I will have to be at my best. I’ll do my work, follow my team’s instructions and focus on myself and I believe if I do I’m among the best in the world so will have too much for him.”
Ward will certainly have to be at his best to beat Hernandez. The Mexican-American has picked up quite the following with his hard-hitting style and he has 12 wins from 13, seven of which have come via knockout. Ward, unbeaten in 24 to date, will have to be wary of his opponent’s strong body attacks in particular, but has certainly proven in the past that he has the boxing ability.
Given his loftier ranking, it represents a risk for Ward to fight someone far lower than him in the rankings. But when an IBF eliminator Cesar Juarez fell through, Ward and his team jumped at the opportunity to fight in a WBO eliminator.
“It is a risk, but I also look at it as a huge opportunity,” Ward said.
“I have no major promoter like Hernandez so throughout my career we’ve had to take opportunities when they come. We did that with Jazza Dickens and we do that again here.
“I believe that experience will serve me well because I know what it means to seize an opportunity. I’ve also never believed I should be anything less than a world champion. I’m only 24 and I can still get even better yet. People haven’t seen the best of Tommy Ward yet, but they will on February 15.”
As confident as Ward is, so too is Hernandez’s promoter Dmitriy Salita.
He told worldboxingNews.net : “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.”
Source : Chroniclelive