Thursday 17 August 2017

Joe Ward named in Irish team for European championships despite pro boxing speculation

Boxer Joe Ward. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Boxer Joe Ward. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Double European gold medallist Joe Ward heads up a nine-man Irish team for next month’s European boxing championship in the Ukraine.

Even though the Moate southpaw has been linked with a move to professional boxing it appears as if he staying amateur for the moment at least.

But reigning Irish welterweight champion Dean Walsh – who won a bronze medal at the 2015 championships in the light welterweight division - is overlooked.

Rio Olympian Steven Donnelly, who won two bouts in Rio before losing on a split decision in his bronze medal fight is preferred ahead of the Wexford fighter.

Donnelly didn’t box at the Elite championships this year due an injury. There was speculation that there would be a box-off between the pair but ultimately the IABA decided against it.

While heavyweight Kirl Afansev won a gold medal at a recent tournament in Romania the selectors opted for current champion and London Olympian Darren O’Neill to box in the 91kg class.

Ireland has held the European bantamweight title for the last four years through John Joe Nevin and Michael Conlan. Now Newry’s Kurt Walker will carry Ireland’s hopes in the 56kg class in Kharkiv.

The top eight boxers in each weight division at the Europeans will qualify for the World championships in Hamburg in late August.

The full team is: 52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul's); 56kg Kurt Walker (Canal); 60kg Patrick Mongan (Olympic); 64kg Sean McComb (Holy Trinity); 69kg Steven Donnelly (All Saints); 75kg Emmet Brennan (Glasnevin); 81kg Joe Ward (Moate); 91kg Darren O’Neill (Paulstown); 91+kg Dean Gardiner (Kilkenny).

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