Frampton v Gutierrez: Fan Steven Ward goes from stands to the ring in Jackal's Den
Steven Ward may be working alongside Carl Frampton this week as they keep the weight in check for Saturday night, but the big Monkstown man admits he is still a fan of the Jackal.
Unbeaten light-heavyweight Ward returns to the ring for a second fight in the space of six weeks when he takes his place on the supporting bill to Frampton's clash with Mexican Andres Gutierrez at Belfast's SSE Arena.
The six rounder comes two-and-a-half years after the Commonwealth Games silver medallist was sitting in the stands of the Jackal's Den roaring on Frampton to victory in his World super-bantamweight title defence against American Chris Avalos.
"I have been to all Carl's fights in the SSE... I remember sitting in the arena the night he fought Avalos and just being blown away by the atmosphere. It was electric, the passion for him from the fans was unreal," said Ward.
"I was as sober as a judge but I felt like I was drunk on the atmosphere. I just thought this is what it's all about and one day I want to be part of this and now I am.
"It feels a bit surreal, we're mates, we're doing track sessions together and at the same time I still feel like I'm a fan of the guy. I'm looking forward to seeing him fight as much as I'm looking forward to my own fight.
"Carl is someone that all the fighters from here look up to but at the same time you can never say you're going to be the next Carl Frampton because there's never going to be another Carl. That place has been filled.
"He's someone that the public can really relate to, a working class guy who treats everyone in the same way that he did before he turned professional.
"Other sports people, and in any walk of life, who get to the heights he has would be a bit carried away and just forget the simple things - the basic manners, the respect for people. But he hasn't, he's just the same.
"He's a decent guy who you can have a bit of banter with who just happens to be a superstar."
Ward will aim to chalk up a fifth straight victory, which he hopes will lead to a step up to eight rounders as he seeks to have more testing encounters.
"I do want to have a good test and the Croatian that I'm facing this Saturday night is said to be a guy who will come and have a go. I need that and it will bring out the best in me," added Ward, who trains with Oliver Harrison in Manchester.
"I'm feeling more comfortable in the ring as a professional now.
"I'm keen to move on to longer fights because I believe that's when you'll see the best of me because I have always had a good engine and it has only got better.
"When I look at the light-heavyweight division in Britain there are some good guys but they're a little flat-footed. For a big guy I feel that I have good footwork and that can really help me move up the ladder.
"Being part of this show is great - hopefully I'll do a good job and then head up to the stands to be part of that amazing atmosphere when Carl comes to the ring."