31.10.03 – BOSTON, Mass. – “Irish” Micky Ward recently retired as a professional boxer after the completion of his celebrated trilogy against rival, Arturo Gatti. Ward, however, will be back in the corner at the 116th New England Tournament of Champions, November 10-11, at Good Time Emporium in Somerville.
No, Ward isn’t attempting a comeback. He’ll be training his 19-year-old nephew, Sean Eklund, a talented 132-pound amateur boxer from Lowell. Eklund trained and even sparred with Uncle Micky for all three of his fights against Gatti.
“I like it a lot better than fighting because I don’t get hit,” Ward joked about training his nephew. “It feels good. I’m having fun being in the corner with Sean. Sean’s as dedicated as they come. He’s a tough kid with a good right hand and hook. Sean’s very disciplined and as well conditioned as anybody. I’m trying to show him how to punch in bunches. My brother Dicky (Eklund) has trained him and he deserves the credit. I’ve been involved in boxing all my life. I didn’t plan on training Sean, but I’m doing it because Dicky hurt his arm.”
According to Ward, being his and Eklund’s nephew really shouldn’t place additional pressure on Sean. “I told Sean he has to be himself and fight his fight,” Micky explained. “He has to stay focused in the ring. This is a learning experience. All he can do is give it his all, win or lose. Boxing is the same as a job; don’t take any short cuts and give it your all. Everybody loses in boxing. What a boxer has to do is learn from each fight.”
Ward is one of 15 former NE Tournament of Champions (NETC) amateur title-winners that went on to capture world titles as professionals: active boxers such as WBA welterweight champion “El Gallo” Jose Antonio Rivera (Worcester, MA), ex-WBA heavyweight title-holder John “The Quietman” Ruiz (Chelsea, MA), and five-time former champ Vinny “Pazmanian Devil” Paz (Warwick, RI); retired champions include Willie “Will ‘o the Wisp” Pep (Hartford, CT), Marvelous Marvin Hagler (Brockton, MA), Joey Gamache (Lewiston, ME), Marlon “Magic Man” Starling (Hartford, MA), Paul Pender (Brookline, MA), Sal Bartolo (East Boston, MA), Harold “Chubby” Gomes (Providence, RI), Joey Archibald (Providence), Lou Brouillard (Worcester, MA), Dick “Honeyboy” Finnegan (Dorchester, MA), and Bill “Honey” Mellody (Charlestown, MA).
The Boston Garden was the site of the NETC tournament, sometimes promoted under a different name, between 1930 and 1979, as three rings were used simultaneously over a four-day period with more than 100 participants.
The winners of the Nov. 11 championship finals, the first leg on the Road to Athens, will advance to the Regional I Championships in January. Olympic rules will be used featuring four two-minute rounds.
The first 100 fans with paid tickets each night, Nov. 10 (opening round) and Nov. 11 (championship finals), will receive an autographed picture of Ward. Following NETC action, Monday Night Football (Green Bay-Philadelphia) will be broadcast, while highlights of Ward’s boxing career will be shown on a giant screen Tuesday evening.
Tickets are $15.00 (general admission) for table seating. Call 617.628.5559 for more information.