'Quiet Man' Steven Ward all set for breakthrough rumble with Steve Collins junior at Windsor Park
STEVEN Ward jokes that Carl Frampton, Jamie Moore and Conrad Cummings have come up with a special nickname for him: ‘Boring Ward'.
It's all just a bit of banter of course, affable Belfast cruiserweight Ward, who meets Steve Collins junior at Windsor Park on August 18, is an arch prankster who is perfectly capable of holding his own in the slagging stakes.
‘The Quiet Man' shares a Manchester flat with Frampton and Cummings during the week as they prepare for fights at Moore's busy gym. Like the punches, the verbal exchanges come thick and fast, but they're all close friends after all is said and done.
“The lads call me ‘Boring Ward', all of them do –Frampton, Jamie, Conrad…,” Ward says, just loud enough for them to hear him at Ricky Hatton's gym in Hyde last week.
“I'll be telling them a story and they'll all start yawning saying 'you're literally boring me mate'.
"But for someone who's so boring, people want to see me do well, which I'm grateful for.
“People support me, selling tickets has never been an issue for me and I'm grateful because it's hard-earned dough – it's a lot of money for someone to spend and you don't buy one ticket, you buy two.
“But, in fairness, you're never going to get a better show to put your money into.
“I asked for a mountain of tickets because I knew, once the buzz got going in Belfast there'd be a big demand.
“Belfast people love the boxing, the whole of Northern Ireland and Ireland does. I've had people asking me about tickets who are flying over from Canada! It's ridiculous. I've heard from people coming from Australia for this one.”
Ward has taken professional boxing in his stride so far, moving to 7-0 with the minimum of fuss since turning pro in 2016 after a successful amateur career. Meanwhile, his opponent Collins – son of Ireland's first two-weight world champion and fight legend Steve senior – is coming in with a 12-1-1 record and represents a good test for Ward.
“I could keep doing what I'm doing and ease into it a bit more but I don't really want to,” said former Monkstown ABC star Ward.
“I have a good amateur background and I really want to kick on now. Steve has a good record, he has 12 wins and one loss and he's done more rounds than me – he's done a few 10-rounders and eight-rounders.
“It's something I'm excited about and it's what I love to do, it's butterfly-in-the-tummy time.
“I think Steve wanted the fight, I remember before he was asking for the fight and I think they've seen an opportunity (to put it on) and decided to make it happen.
“There was talk about it happening later in the year on it's own in a small-hall show. I got a phonecall and the offer was Steve Collins at Windsor Park. In a heartbeat I took it. I said ‘Of course, yes, 100 per cent' and they were like ‘Well, we have to phone Jamie (Moore) first'.
“I knew Jamie was going to say yes and I know it will be a great fight, it's going to bring the best out of me.”
He knows victory over Collins at a sold-out Windsor Park will do wonders for his profile and his future prospects. It's an opportunity he has no intention of passing up.
“It's cheesy to say it, but every fight is your world title fight,” he said.
“Winning a fight like this and I'm up a few rungs on the ladder, you're really starting to make a bit of a difference. It's a good test, it gets a bit of publicity and it's a good notch on your card.
“It will be a good fight and I can't wait for it.”