WHAT do you think of Juli Giner?
There’s was talk of me fighting him a few years ago when he had the European title so I watched a bit of him then. I fancied my chances straight away when I saw the style of him. It makes for a good fight. From then he went and gave up the belt. He fought an eliminator for a world title and got beat. So he’s not someone I haven’t seen or haven’t heard of.
How good does it feel having the Lonsdale belt outright?
It means a lot to me and my family. It still feels surreal coming indoors every day and just seeing the belt on my mantlepiece. It’s lovely. But that’s done now. It’s done and dusted and it’s moving up now and stepping up the levels and getting this European title.
This European title puts me on the world radar next year. It’s a must win fight obviously. I can look forward to some big fights in 2018 if I get this belt.
What are the fights you’re after next year?
I want to push on to world level and be pushing towards a world title. It’s been my dream since a kid to be a world champion. I’m 26 now, 27 next year. I’m still young but I’m getting there. I’m ready for it now. I’m ready to push on now and move up the ladder.
I’ve got plenty of experience. I’m mature physically and mentally now.
They’re all tough in your division, aren’t they?
Of course, as you’ve seen at the weekend. There are some great fights, great fights, top class fighters.
[Vasyl] Lomachenko’s the main man at the weight but even so, in the other fights, [Stephen] Smith was unlucky with his ear. Stephen’s a lovely guy, he’s a great fighter as well. It’s having that bit of luck. Everyone needs that little bit of luck. He’s not getting the roll of the dice but he’s there and he’s getting his opportunities and he’s had the fights. It’s just the way it’s played out. Maybe next year he’ll be a big fight for me.
Do you see yourself fighting him?
He’s a lovely guy, I’ve got nothing against him. We’re in the same weight. If the fight makes sense at the time, I’ll fight anybody. It’s just getting it right. Next year’s a big year for me.
Would you fight Lomachenko?
Of course, I would. I’ll fight anybody.
You almost fought him in 2011.
I was one warning away from fighting him, wasn’t I? In the amateurs, in the World championships.
How would you fight him now?
He’s the best in my weight, he’s the best man. Pound for pound he’s a great man. I couldn’t really give you a one line answer. You’d have to hit him harder than he’d hit you. Just keep your shape. He takes his time as well. He’s very fast and very agile with his angles and that. You’d have to be very clever around him as well. He’s a great technician.
In the amateurs he used to start off slower than what he does now. The pros suit him a bit more. In the amateurs I used to start fast and he used to start slow so my aim in the amateurs was get off to a fast start with him. I’d get these points on him.
My mind was set on fighting him. Anyway, the fight before I boxed the Brazilian, [Robson] Conceicao, he’s won the Olympics since and I got a public warning [a two point penalty] in the last 20 seconds and lost fight by a point. It was a joke. It broke my heart at the time. [That loss denied Ward qualification to the 2012 Olympic Games.] But that’s another story. I was close to fighting Lomachenko and the fight could possibly happen in the future, who knows?