Sunday 22 October 2017

'The World Championship is the only medal I'm missing now'- Ward has sights set on Worlds after gold medal win

Joe Ward of Moate celebrates after defeating Anthony Browne of St Michaels Dub during their 81KG bout at the 2017 IABA Elite Boxing Championship finals in the National Stadium, Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Joe Ward of Moate celebrates after defeating Anthony Browne of St Michaels Dub during their 81KG bout at the 2017 IABA Elite Boxing Championship finals in the National Stadium, Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

Irish Light Heayweight Joe Ward claimed his third European Boxing Championship gold medal on Saturday when he defeated Russian Muslim Gadzhimagomedov via unanimous decision to claim Ireland's sole gold medal at the championships.

Ward was awarded a 5:0 unanimous decision win with a polished performance against Gadzhimagomedov with the 23-year-old thwarting his opponent's advances with some slick counter-punching.

Gadzhimagomedov came out in the opening round by charging towards Ward, who proved too slick for his opponent by landing a series of clean combinations before slipping out to avoid the Russian's punches.

The Moate native took the opening round comfortably and showed the same polish to begin the second, landing a terrific left-right combination to beat Gadzhimagomedov to the jab and punish his opponent for over extending.

Ward continued to pepper Gadzhimagomedov throughout the second round and finished the second strongly with a nice flurry to claim the round.

With Ward heading towards the stool with a clear two-round advantage, Team Ireland Head Coach Zaur Antia encouraged the two-time champion to utilise his jab more and to create distance between him and Gadzhimagomedov.

However, the Russian rallied in the third and managed to work his way inside Ward's stance before landing some nice shots to the body.

The tempo fluctuated throughout the round and eventually culminated with the two swinging and landing some wild shots, but ultimately, Ward prevailed to have his hand raised by referee Alejandro Barrientos.

The reigning champion was visibly delighted with his successful defence and took great encouragement from his corner.

"Overall I was in control,  I felt like it was very positive," Ward told RTE Radio 1 after the fight.

"I knew I was in the reckoning and I just had to follow what I was being told and I felt comfortable."

Ward added that he now has aspirations of competing at the World Amateur Championships in Germany in August, a tournament where he won a bronze medal in 2013 and a silver medal at the 2015 championships in Doha.

"The World Championships is something I'd like to go to and get a gold medal," added Ward.

"That's probably the only medal I'm missing now. At the moment I'm enjoying my third European gold medal, and this time six years ago I became the U17 European champion, so it's a very special day for me today."

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