Family sacrifices will be worth it in the end: Ward
Popular light-heavyweight Steven Ward admits he has had to block out family issues in order to make sure he maintains the momentum in his career.
Ward returns to the ring in Essex tonight on the back of an exhilarating victory at the Ulster Hall over Liam Conroy, who is also in the eight-fighter Golden Contract tournament which is being screened on Sky Sports.
Ward has been drawn against Latvian Ricards Bolotniks and should make it through to the semi-finals before looking forward to spending some quality time with new baby Isla, son Noah and daughter Casey.
"I've been away for 10 weeks and it's not easy, particularly as our youngest Isla had just been born and my wife Cathy has had to deal with her suffering from bronchitis and my wife has also been sick. But it will be worth all the sacrifice when I get the win," said Ward.
"I can't afford to think too much about the family because I have a job to do and this is the boxer's life - and it's all about giving them a better life.
"That's why this Golden Contract is such a great opportunity for me because you have the fights laid out and a six-figure purse for your first fight after winning the Golden Contract.
"It really is a life-changing opportunity for all the guys in the tournament."
Laid-back Ward admits that his profile rose significantly after defeating Conroy in a bloody battle at the Ulster Hall in June and this evening's quarter-final on Sky will give him the opportunity to develop that even further.
"The last fight was big for me. The best way for me to describe it was that I was walking down the street in east Belfast and people were coming up to me and wishing me well and saying how much they enjoyed the fight with Conroy," added Ward, who is coached by Jamie Moore.
"It was an exciting fight - great for punters but not so good for the boxers! It has helped me a lot but also I have been working on making improvements in the gym with my coach Jamie.
"My concentration needs to be better and there were a few things that just needed to be sharpened and I want to show that in this fight."
Meanwhile, Bolotniks insists he is ready to cause an upset.
He said: "Everyone who is here is tough and they're all good boxers. I want to fight with everyone in this tournament and I am happy to fight Steven Ward.
"I saw his fight with Liam Conroy and I thought Liam won that fight. They have made a mistake by picking me, and I want to show them they're not correct."
Meanwhile, Belfast's Joe Fitzpatrick will face Gary Cully for the Irish lightweight title at the Ulster Hall on February 1.