Tuesday 25 July 2017

Speculation mounts about Ward switch to pro ranks

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

Sean McGoldrick and Ciaran Gallagher

Joe Ward is again being linked with a move to professional boxing.

And, significantly, the 23-year-old Moate southpaw hasn't denied that he is on the verge of joining the pro ranks.

"We will have to wait and see," said Ward in reply to a question as to whether reports on social media that he was on the verge of turning professional were true.

Timing

The timing of the current speculation is slightly odd as only last weekend Ward returned to international competition for the first time since a disastrous performance at the Rio Olympics last summer and he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at a tournament in Romania.

Ward is due lead the Irish challenge at the forthcoming European Championships - where he has twice been crowned champion .

Meanwhile, Michael Conlan is itching to get back in the ring with a week to go until his second professional bout.

The former world amateur champion will headline a US bill for the second time in two months next Friday when he takes on Mexican journeyman Alfredo Chanez in Chicago following on from his successful debut in New York on St Patrick's Day.

Plans are also in place for the Belfast native to feature on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao's July 2 world welterweight title defence against Jeff Horn in Brisbane, and Conlan is eager to kick off his busy summer schedule.

"I just can't wait to get in there and get it done," said the Belfast native. "It feels like forever since the debut, so I'm glad I'll be back next week. I just want to get it done and get another fight out of the way."

The Falls Road fighter will travel from his Los Angeles training base to Chicago on Monday ahead of the fight-week build-up.

Conlan has been hard at work under trainer Manny Robles at the coach's Carson gym where Irish middleweight Jason Quigley and world champions Oscar Valdez, Gilberto Ramirez and Jessie Magdaleno also train.

Improving

And the 25-year-old claims he is flying fit ahead of next week's six-round bout, which will be held between the super-bantamweight (122lb) and featherweight (126lb) limits.

"It's been great working with Manny," said Conlan. "I feel like I'm improving all the time. He's happy with how I'm progressing so if he's happy then I'm happy.

"I finished up sparring on Monday. I'm just getting the last bit of weight off now, nothing too heavy, and waiting to get fighting."

Chanez sports a modest 4-4 record and, while the Mexican has never been stopped, he is coming off the back of two defeats, having previously fought at lower weight classes.

Irish Independent

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