The world’s oldest professional boxer Steve Ward from Mansfield says he fought through the pain barrier in his defeat to Germany’s Andreas Sidon for a world heavyweight title in the final bout of his career.
Ward, 60, is recognised as the oldest active professional boxer and moved up from light heavyweight to heavyweight to take on the naturally heavier Sidon, 54, in Mansfield for the WBC veteran heavyweight championship.
It was the first time the previously vacant title was up for grabs and Sidon knocked Ward down in the seventh round with a right jab to seal the win.
Sidon has previously beaten the likes of Danny Williams – who famously thwarted Mike Tyson in 2004 – Audley Harrison and fought Nikolay Valuev, the seven ft tall Russian dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’.
In a gutsy display, Ward started the fight strongly and was ahead by six rounds, according to the judges’ scorecard.
Video: Notts TV streamed the fight live on Saturday night.
Hundreds of fans gathered at Mansfield Civic Quarter to witness Ward’s last fight – including Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer Ollie Hynd.
But as the rounds progressed it was evident Ward, who had never gone more than eight rounds, was tiring and he was outdone by the right jab which caught him flush in the seventh round.
After the fight Ward said he has a rotated cuff injury to his left shoulder which meant he couldn’t jab as freely as he would’ve liked – but he still agreed to the fight as he thought he could win.
And Ward says Sidon told him after the fight he was shaken by a big right hand in the fifth round – and was saved by the bell.
Ward said: “They [the judges] put me six rounds up but, I must admit, I’ve got a rotated cuff injury – a serious one.
“I’ve already had the pre-op, I go into hospital on August 15 to be cut open under the shoulder, past the bicep to the elbow.
“I’ve got a 20 millimetre tear and an eight millimetre tear. It did hinder me a bit, but no excuses, I do not use it as an excuse.
“At one time when it first happened I couldn’t move the arm. I was told if they operated there’d be no fight because it would take so long to heal. It was down to me to heal myself.
“Make no mistake of that: I was in there to win, I knew what the score was and I still took the fight.
“Andreas said to me in the fifth round right near the end I caught him with a right. He said he didn’t know where he was and he was saved by the bell.”
The 60-year-old says his game plan was to come out firing in the early rounds because Sidon is used to going the full 12 rounds and typically makes a slower start to fights.
He said: “Andreas is a seasoned professional and he’s well-used to going 12 rounds. Me, I’ve never done a 12-round fight.
“I’ve never done 10; I’ve never done an eight-round fight. I said to myself, I’ll come out like a train in the first couple of rounds to see how it affected him.
“I caught him a couple of times because he’s used to having a slower start to the early rounds.”
Ward says he takes nothing away from Sidon who proved “a bit too much” for him on the night and, although he lost to the big German, he doesn’t feel like a loser as he could’ve easily taken on a lesser opponent and bowed out of the sport following a comfortable win.
“I would have felt like a loser if I’d have done what a lot of people wanted me to do: taken an easy victory on, something I’ve never done,” he added.
“If I’d have had an easy victory and lost to that person then I’d have felt like a loser. Losing against a man who beat Danny Williams after Danny Williams stopped ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, I don’t think I’m a loser.
“It makes me feel really proud. I’ve lost to the number one in the world, the world champion.
“To be a number two I can live with that; number one would’ve been my preference.
“I can hold my hands up and say I fought for the world title in Nottinghamshire for Mansfield and England.
“OK I wasn’t successful but if you ask the full crowd tonight, how did Steve Ward get on, they would’ve said they went home happy.
“I wanted to please Mansfield, Nottinghamshire and I really wanted to win this for England. As it was he had a bit too much. I couldn’t jab out as I wanted to.”