World ranked Thomas Patrick Ward boxed circles around Mexican featherweight champion Edy Valencia for ten rounds in Newcastle, recording a wide unanimous decision win.
Ward, who holds a No3 ranking with the WBO and a No 8 one with the IBF at super-bantamweight, but sees his future at featherweight. He was lucky to emerge with his unbeaten record intact after his fight with Thomas Essomba in October was declared a technical draw.
There had been much talk in the build-up about the recent upset wins by Mexicans in Britain, but Valencia was tailor-made for Ward. He tried non-stop, but Ward never stuck around long enough to be hurt by him.
Ward was always first with his jab and by the time Valencia was in a position to land a reply, Ward had already spun out of range.
Valencia was credited with a knockdown in the fifth, although it was soft. Ward had gone down on his heals with a light left cuffed him around the ear with enough power to put him on his backside.
The action was competitive but very similar throughout. Ward was happier to mix it in the last three rounds and, while Valencia did get through with some shots, he never hurt Ward.
Ward’s unbeaten record now stands at 31 fights (including one draw), but his lack of power could be a problem at the highest level – he only has four stoppage wins on his record, none beyond six-round level.
Ward won by scores of 98-92 (twice) and 97-93.
“[Against Essomba] it was just all over a bad night and a bad performance by me, but we’re only human, we’re no machines,” Ward said. “Tonight was a batter night, it was a great fight for the fans, I really enjoyed it.
“It was a stumble and he caught my glove, so it was a punch,” he said of the knockdown.
“I’ve been chasing Emanuel Navarete. He’s moved up, I’ve moved up, I want that fight.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.