WORCESTER, Mass. (March 15, 2005) – According to no less an authority on ring toughness than “Irish” Micky Ward himself, No. 1 contender Thomas Damgaard (34-0,l 26 KOs) more than lives up to his nickname, “Lionheart,” and he poses a serious threat April 2 in his first fight outside of his native Denmark.

“Damgaard’s tough, real tough,” Ward remembered. “He’s a good fighter who comes forward and throws combinations. He’s not a one-punch knockout guy, but his accumulated punches take a toll. Damgaard is very strong.”

The No. 1 rated contender Damgaard challenges WBA “regular” welterweight champion Jose Antonio Rivera (37-3-1, 24 KOs) in the latter’s hometown of Worcester in the 12-round co-feature promoted by Don King Productions. The WBC/WBA Cruiserweight Championship Unification match between Wayne “Big Truck” Braithwaite (21-0, 17 KOs) and Jean-Marc Mormeck (30-2, 21 KOs) is
the headliner.

In 1999, long before Ward’s legendary trio of fights with Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, Damgaard brought Micky to Copenhagen as a sparring partner before his European light welterweight title fight against Khalid Rahilou. “Most European fighters stand straight up and don’t look that strong,” continued
Ward. “Damgaard, though, doesn’t stand as tall and is very strong. He has a good style, strong upper body, and more movement—not as stiff as your basic European fighter.”

Ward offers a unique perspective on Rivera-Damgaard because he’s also sparred with Rivera numerous times, and they are friends. Micky’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, is only 40 miles northwest of Worcester.

“I’ve been to Jose’s gym for sparring a lot of times,” Ward noted. “He’s the real deal, more of a boxer type, but he can hurt you if you go to sleep on him. He really puts his punches together and knows boxing. Jose has a lot of ring knowledge—the ins and outs of boxing—and he’s going to have to be smart against Damgaard. This guy is dangerous and Jose can’t get too excited fighting at home, especially in the early going. It’s going to be a great fight.”