The Newtownabbey light heavy features on the Luke Keeler v Conrad Cummings undercard at the Ulster Hall and, with no other eight-rounder scheduled for the MTK Global Fight Night, ‘The Quiet Man’ is expected to quietly slot in before the main event.
Almost two-and-a-half years a pro, Ward has been progressing steadily through the ranks, moving up to eight and ten rounders last year and picking up the BUI Celtic title in the process.
It hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing, however, for the Commonwealth Games silver medallist who trains out of Jamie Moore’s VIP Gym in Manchester where he gets gruelling sparring with the likes of Martin Murray and Rocky Fielding.
Ward has had his fair share of bumps, most notably the number of headbutts he took versus Mexican champion Rolando Paredes last October which fractured his eye-socket and saw him miss out on a slot on the Warrington-Frampton undercard.
While the ninth-round disqualification win may have delayed Ward from reaching 10-0, the 28-year-old is taking a long-term view ahead of his return to the ring – perhaps with a float in between to allow trainer Jamie Moore time to prepare.
“I think that Paredes fight improved me in a general sense,” he explained.
“I had to learn how to deal with certain situations. I was seeing double in the eighth round when the fracture happened from the headbutt. I couldn’t get my range and my distance.”
“It was good to be in that situation and come through it because overall, it’s made me a better fighter.”
Ward still completed a full camp ahead of the Warrington-Frampton card in Manchester only to be ruled out at a late stage and has been training in Astley since the start of the year.
With this in mind, it is hoped that a testing opponent will be confirmed for him in the near future.
Whoever will be across from him on Friday night, Ward warns that they will be facing a wall of noise as he looks to kick off a big year and move into contention for further domestic titles.
The big man stated that “I really can’t wait to get in there. I know everyone says the same but for me, Belfast is the best place to fight and Ulster Hall is bang in the middle of it.”
“It’s going to be like a cauldron in there on the night and it’s just such a beautiful place to box. I’m really looking forward to being back there and the support is going to be unreal.
“The last fight was frustrating having done a full camp and then being denied by the doctor but it’s just given me more motivation to crack on and have a really big year this year.”