Steven Ward revealed his coach Jamie Moore got him through his enthralling blood and guts WBO European ranking title fight with Liam Conroy on Friday night – but only after he all but ensured the light heavyweight clash was going to be a war.
The respected trainer didn’t ensure his charge went into the clash with a ‘war’ mantra nor did he devise a gameplan that increased the chances of a Fight of the Year contender.
Rather, the coach put the idea of an all-action dust up playing out on the card out into the universe and it all but came back to haunt him and indeed Ward.
Moore is a big advocate of ‘The Secret’ and does believe in speaking things into existence and, before Friday night’s entertaining card ,he continuously predicted the show would play host to a thrilling all-action fight.
“Jamie kept saying earlier, clapping his hands, saying ‘I can feel there is going to be a war tonight’. I was thinking ‘please god don’t let it be me’. Jamie is big into the Universe and he was like he could feel it,” Ward laughed after the win.
However, while he may jokingly blame Moore, who also coaches Carl Frampton, for a pre-fight jinx, he credits his corner for ensuring he survived some troubling times against the big punching Conroy. Ward would thank Moore and Nigel Travis for keeping him focused to the extent he was able to pick up enough rounds to win a title fight that went to the scorecards early due to a cut over his eye.
Having got up off the deck early in the fight and having been forced to deal with a sizeable and awkwardly placed cut for the majority of proceedings Ward’s heart came in for some serious praise post the seven-and-a-half round Ulster Hall thriller.
However, the 29-year-old stressed he always knew he had heart, pointing out that wasn’t the key factor.
‘The Quiet Man’ claims the demeanour of and instructions from his cornermen Moore and Travis were what got him through the toughest test of his career.
“Heart is not the problem I think it’s about being smart,” he continued.
“People are saying you showed great heart, which is there, but it’s Nigel and Jamie I owe all the credit to. They are the ones that got me through it. When I went back to the corner there were times I had wee demons in my head, but they were saying ‘look you can beat this guy, but don’t be doing this or that’.
“They don’t overload with information they give you one or two things to do and you go out and do it. If you don’t do it and come back Nigel calls you a big stupid such and such. People say I showed a lot of heart, but it’s not just that it’s the team around me.”
Ward was hurt by the renowned banger early in the fight, but managed to regroup and produced some of his best pro work at stages throughout the fight.
The Newtownabbey native claims he wasn’t panicked when dropped and claims he always had faith he could take back control of the fight.
“I knew if I done what Jamie and Nigel were asking me I could turn it. Sometimes the crowd got the better of me. I didn’t get hurt when I got dropped, obviously I got wobbled, but I was back up, I felt solid and I wasn’t in any bother. I was a bit annoyed at myself for what happened. I knew I had it in me.”
A massive cut opened over Ward’s eye in the second round of the fight played a crucial part throughout.
Indeed, it ultimately became the reason the bout was stopped in the eight stanza.
The fighter claims the fact referee Steve Grey saw the clash came from a head butt rather than a punch and communicated that straight away meant he didn’t fight on with massive apprehension.
“It happened the round at the end of the second round and it was the heads. The only thing I was thankful for, and it’s something every fighter worries about, Steve Gray, who is a phenomenal ref and I was lucky to have him, when he came over and said clash of heads it settled me a bit. I was worried he didn’t see it and that would have lost me the fight.”
The Jamie Moore-trained fighter registered the biggest win of his career on a great stage and in the most dramatic of fashions at the Ulster Hall, but post the bout was his typical quiet self.
Just when journalists thought they may get some bold talk or adrenaline inspired future predictions from the always respectful light heavy, he was just thankful for the achievement and that both fighters left the ring unharmed.
“We are both healthy and well. We both have young families to go home to and I look forward having two days off and getting back in the gym! Everyone was here to see me achieve what I always wanted to achieve and I am going to keep going now.”