Neil Fannan says that being the trainer of Tommy Ward has stopped him walking away from boxing.
Fannan, a former pro, has trained many fighters over the years, including former world title challenger Michael Hunter, but disillusioned with the sport’s politics, the Hartlepool-based coach almost left the game – until protégé Ward renewed his passion.
Ward, 23-0 (3), headlines at the Rainton Meadows Arena on Friday July 27, live on Freesports (Freeview 95, Freesat 252, Sky 422, BT 95, Talk Talk 95), taking on Spain’s Alvaro Rodriguez, 8-1-1 (1), for the vacant IBF European Super Bantamweight Title.
The County Durham fighter, who beat Liverpool’s Jazza Dickens last year for the British Super Bantamweight Title, has now vacated the Lonsdale Belt and is looking to gatecrash the world scene.
The talented 24-year-old – now working with promoter Dennis Hobson after ending his association with Frank Warren – has many in the Northeast fight fraternity convinced he can be a future world champ, and Fannan is leading the call.
“You know, I thought about retiring from boxing until Tommy came along,” explained Fannan, who also trains Tommy’s older brother, Martin. “I love training the lads but it’s the politics of boxing that holds you back.
“I thought about calling it a day, but training Tommy has given me a new lease of life. His talent is unreal, and nobody has seen his full potential. He’s shown flashes of it but until his last fight he was really a boy. When he fought Jazza Dickens, he was a boy. The change in him is unbelievable, and his ring presence is different to what it was before.
“I haven’t watched Tommy’s opponent for the 27th, but we’ve been around different gyms and he’s sparred world class fighters, and world champions, and more than holds his own. He’s ready for the next stage of his career. With Dennis [Hobson], Dave Garside and Phil Jeffries, we’ve all talked about it, and I feel like we’ve done a nice move by vacating the British Title and moving Tommy on.
“His career has stood still slightly since we signed the promotional deal [with Frank Warren], but Dennis has got high hopes for him. We’ve worked with Dennis before; he got Martin [Ward] his world title fight [against Stuart Hall], so we’re more than happy to work with Dennis and see how far we can take Tommy.
“I never look past any fight but, get this fight out the way and I’m hoping we can get a world title eliminator. I’m hoping this fight takes us one fight, or possibly two, away from a world title fight.”