Martin J Ward wants to wrap up the Lord Lonsdale belt for keeps before moving onto bigger honours – and meets Maxi Hughes for the third time as he starts that journey on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena, live on Sky Sports.
Ward makes the second defence of his British Super-Featherweight title against Hughes, the unbeaten Essex talent wants to put in an impressive performance to prove that this is the year he will land more major titles.
“I’m going to go in there and smash him,” said Ward. “I want to be in big fights and the sooner they come, the better. I am ready to go now, I am ready to rock ‘n’ roll and the bigger the better now for me.
“I want to be getting up there for European titles, and onto the world stage. I want to get up there now this year. I have been pro since 2012, I have had 18 fights, I have matured and I am ready to take on some of the big boys.
“I want a big fight. I want to be in centre stage on a big fight night and to be involved in the really big fights now. I’ll be 26 this year and I am matured. I watched my last fight back and I didn’t perform well at all, so I have a point to prove against myself and I want to come back with a nice, dominant performance and move on.
“I won’t take Maxi for granted. I have trained and prepared for the best of Maxi. I feel stronger, better than ever and I have matured a lot lately – I can feel it in my body. We’ve got a nutritionist on board now as well and I can see little changes in the shape of my body. I feel strong as an ox and I am ready to do a good job on Maxi Hughes.
“Since our last meeting he has notched up a few wins. He will come with his own ambitions but it is not happening – I’m going to do a good, solid job on him, get his name out of the way, get it done in dusted and move on to bigger and better fight.
“I have all the tools to beat him no matter what he does. I’m just really, really looking forward to this fight on a big platform, a big show, I’ve had a great camp with no injuries so I’m looking to go out there and put a seriously dominant performance on and then step up the levels and get a big fight.
“I’m not looking past Maxi Hughes. I have trained as if I am training for a World title fight, I’ve been very, very disciplined, I have left no stone unturned as they say and if it comes down to a fight, I am the winner. I will hit him hard, hit him fast and I’ll be too fast, too sharp, too hard a hitter – I’m going to be too much for him.
“That is why I’ve done everything as it should’ve been done and more in this camp and I’m ready to put on a big performance and get people talking about me.”
Ward’s clash with Hughes is part of a huge night of action in Manchester as Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla meet in a World Lightweight unification rematch following their epic first encounter in September.
Brian Rose and Jack Arnfield meet in the ‘Battle of Blackpool’ at Middleweight, Irish sensation Katie Taylor fights for the fourth time in the paid ranks, Marcus Morrison defends his WBC International Middleweight strap against Jason Welborn, while his Joe Gallagher gym-mate Hosea Burton looks to bounce back into title contention from his epic battle with Frank Buglioni.
Amateur standouts Lawrence Okolie and Sean McGoldrick make their pro debuts while there’s also action for Tomi Tatham, Ben Sheedy and Nathan Wheatley.
Tickets are on sale priced at £40, £60, £80, £100 and £150 and available from www.manchesterarena.com or by calling 0844 847 8000. VIPs tickets are exclusively available through www.matchroomboxing.com priced at £250.
Face value tickets for March 25 will also be available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ . StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua.