Mansfield’s record-breaking boxer Steve Ward is aiming to fulfil his father’s prophecy and win a world heavyweight boxing title this Saturday.
Ward, at 60 years old in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest competing boxer, will lace up his gloves for the final time as he takes on giant German opponent Andreus Sidon for the WBC Veteran Heavyweight Championship of the World at Mansfield Civic Centre.
Being World Champion had been an ambition since his first fight aged 11 and it’s taken 49 years to have a crack at one.
“I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me at 11 that I’d fight for a world title at 60,” he smiled.
“However, my dad had a little newsagents in Hyson Green and when I was born he put a little sepia photo of me on the counter and he wrote underneath it – one day this man will fight for the heavyweight world championship.
“It’s taken me all these years dad, but I’m doing it for you.”
Imposing opponent Sidon is 54 years old, 6ft 6ins, 17st 8lbs, and he has had 45 wins, 36 of them by way of knock-out, including wins over Danny Williams and Audley Harrison down the years.
But Ward said: “I am not nervous at all – I never have nerves. But I am buzzing.
“It’s a great feeling and I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.
“This last day it’s like it’s become real all at once. I am thinking I have got a world title fight in four days – oh my god!
“I don’t care who you are. You always think I should have done this or I should have done that – you could go on forever more.
“But the same as my dad used to say – if you’re this close to a fight son, what’s not in the tank now is not going to get in, and it’s true. I am feeling good.”
His dad is not the only person wants to win the title for.
“The Mansfield people are behind me good and proper and I’m going to do them proud,” he said.
“I am a patriotic guy and I love England, but Mansfield? Wow, what a breed – they are a breed on their own and I have to do them proud.
“The atmosphere is going to be electric.”
Ward promises he and Sidon are too old for trash talk at Friday’s weigh-in at Mansfield Civic Centre.
“There will be no trash talk at all. I respect him and he respects me,” said Ward.
“We are two veteran fighters clashing horns. We are gladiators.
“We are friends before the fight. The fight goes on and we will want to hate each other. Then we’ll be big friends after the fight. That’s how it should be.
“We are a bit too long in the tooth to be calling each other aren’t we?”
He added: “I have always wanted to fight for a world title and it’s no longer a dream.
“My first fight I was 11 years old, though I’d trained since I was nine.
“I can remember my first opponent’s name as well – it was Paul Ironmonger – and it was at Daybrook Working Men’s Club. It was like a little Vegas to me.”
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