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Boxing: WARD'S WAR! Argie's warning to rival in title showdown.

Byline: By ADAM STEEL

ARGIE WARD is planning to be the last man standing when he makes the first defence of the Commonwealth super bantamweight title in front of the Sky TV cameras tonight.

The Darlington 30-year-old starts as an underdog to retain the belt against Ghana's Anyetei Laryea but has warned his critics to write him off at their peril ahead of the match at Peterlee Leisure Centre.

"Talk is cheap, I've just got to go in there and do the business," said the 30-year-old.

"He has obviously got ability because he went 12 rounds with Nicky Cook for the Commonwealth featherweight title. "But I hit hard, I've got a rock-solid chin and I'm going to war. I waited all my career to become Darlington's first professional boxing champion and I'm not about to give up the title without a fight."

Ward's Hartlepool-based trainer Neil Fannan knows Laryea will provide a tough test but has masterminded his man's attacking game plan.

"Argie is freakishly strong and all he has got in his head is the thought of being the last man standing," said Fannan.

Teessiders Paul Truscott, Gavin Reid and James McElvaney are all intending to stretch their unbeaten records on the Matchroom-promoted bill, which has been hit by a string of last-minute withdrawals.

Featherweight Truscott now fights 88-bout Sheffield journeyman Daniel Thorpe after his original opponent - former British champion Jamie McKeever - announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Southpaw Thorpe, 30, has boxed everywhere from Bethnal Green to Belfast, fought Amir Khan two years ago and has been five rounds with new WBA light welterweight champion Gavin Rees.

"McKeever was a better job but it was his last throw of the dice against Paul and he obviously thought better of it," said Truscott's manager Michael Marsden.

"But Thorpe is still a live opponent and knocked somebody out on Tuesday. He is awkward and can punch."

Opportunity was set to knock for Redcar's Reid with a four-rounder against Andy Bell, but the English super flyweight champion - a replacement for Tony McQuade - pulled out last night, leaving Marsden to feverishly search around for an opponent today.

Darlington heavyweight Chris Burton is now off the card after two opponents - a Pole and a Frenchman - failed to travel.

But the show goes on for Stokesley featherweight McElvaney, who rumbles with London-based Pole Marius Bak over four rounds.

Rendall Munroe - who has been sparring Truscott - now faces Marc Callaghan for the vacant English super bantamweight title in the chief support.

Sky Sports 1 televises the main event live from 10pm.

CAPTION(S):

READY FOR RING ACTION: Teessider Paul Truscott, above, and, inset, Darlington's Argie Ward Main picture by DAVE CHARNLEY
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 12, 2007
Words:445
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