Martin Ward 'not underdog' against IBF champion Stuart Hall
Durham boxer Martin Ward has denied that IBF world bantamweight champion Stuart Hall will be the favourite when they fight in March.
Commonwealth champion Ward, 25, has been chosen as the opponent for Hall's first defence of the title he won by beating Vusi Malinga last November.
"Go and speak to people that really know boxing and ask who is the underdog for this fight," he told BBC Sport.
"Sixty percent would say it's Stuie, there's no way I'm the underdog."
Ward won his belt with a unanimous decision victory over Ghanaian Gabriel Odoi Laryea on 7 December.
That came seven months after he suffered the second defeat of his career and lost the British title to Lee Haskins.
He is now the third successive southpaw to challenge Hall, after the Darlington fighter beat Sergio Perales and then Malinga.
And despite forging their careers in the same region, the north east duo have never faced each other.
"It has been coming for a long, long time and actually nearly happened back in our amateur days," said Ward.
"We've sparred a couple of times but that's nothing like being in a proper fight.
"But I know how to beat him. Stuie says he's boxed the two best southpaws in the world but we'll see about that - he hasn't fought me yet."