It has been a long time coming but Steven Ward is closing in on his return to the ring and pursuit of the British cruiserweight title.
Ward was left gutted last December when suffering a weight-drained defeat in the quarter-finals of the Golden Contract's light-heavyweight tournament and immediately decided to take a step up in weight. Covid-19 halted his return to the ring but he is now looking ahead to a first fight at cruiser on September 30 against Jone Valu at the York Hall, Bethnal Green.
Like every fighter, particularly those without a title, the pandemic has hit them very hard and Ward admits he is very thankful to those sponsors who have stuck by him during the past six months.
With the chance to kick-start his career at the end of the month, popular Ward is hoping he can push quickly towards a shot at the Lonsdale belt.
"The British title has always been one that I've wanted to win and I would hope that by the end of the year I'll be in the top 10 in Britain. It's just great to be getting back out again," said Ward.
"It has been a tough time for everybody with this pandemic. I had to go and find a job and I have to thank my sponsor Stevie Parr who gave me work in his various projects and another sponsor Robbie Andrews of Advanced Scaffolding who has been a big help as well.
"Some people may think boxing is like professional football but it is far from the case. If you don't fight you don't get paid so to have guys like Robbie and Stevie has been very helpful.
"My granda always said to me that you'll work harder for £10 an hour than £100 an hour and that's what I found out on the building sites. It was hard graft and it made me feel very thankful to be able to do the thing I love; boxing.
"Training in the morning and working on the sites also helped me stay in shape so when I got the call that I'd be fighting in three weeks' time I wasn't going to turn it down."
While Ward has not been able to fly to Manchester to work out with coach Jamie Moore, he has ticked over with former amateur trainer Paul Johnston at Monkstown ABC and insists he will be ready for the behind-closed-doors six-rounder.
Indeed, the gentle giant insists that excuses are not acceptable in the current climate and he points to wife Cathy as his inspiration during this difficult time.
"Cathy is someone I really look up to because she puts everything on hold because of my boxing. She went back to hairdressing after my loss last year. Due to Covid-19 there is no passing trade but she has been building up a good client base. She's a very determined, stubborn woman who is so determined when she wants to achieve something and I can take a leaf out of her book," added Ward.
"I'm determined to give it everything in seeking to achieve my goals in this sport but, hand on heart, if it comes to the point where I feel I can't do that then I will walk away because it's too tough a sport.
"But I believe I can go a long way and cruiserweight is going to suit me a lot more. I just want to stay as busy as possible."