Wednesday 22 January 2020

'Charlie told me he wasn't hitting him hard' - Father of Irish MMA fighter whose opponent tragically died

Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho (right) during his fight with Charlie Ward. Photo: Dave Fogarty
Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho (right) during his fight with Charlie Ward. Photo: Dave Fogarty

Tom Rooney

The father of the Irish MMA fighter whose opponent died last night after an event held in Dublin over the weekend has told Joe Duffy that there was no power in son’s punches at the end of the contest.

News emerged this morning that Portuguese mixed martial artist Joao Carvalho (28) had passed away in Beaumont Hospital following a welterweight bout with Charlie Ward at Total Extreme Fighting 1 in the National Stadium on Saturday night.

Ward (36), who is a stablemate of Conor McGregor at Team SBG Ireland, won the fight by third round technical knockout.

In the immediate aftermath of the contest, the onsite medical staff examined Carvalho, and he was thought to be fine but soon fell ill  before being rushed to hospital. He underwent surgery but, unfortunately, died last night.

Charlie Ward’s father, Charles snr, rang RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline this afternoon and expressed his condolences to the Carvalho family, but also to speak on his son’s behalf.

Mr Ward was not present at the fight, but he had just spoken to his son who told him that punches he struck Carvalho with to win the contest had little power behind them, as he knew his opponent was all but defeated.

Furthermore, he said that it had been relayed to him that the referee should possibly have called a halt to the fight quicker than he had.

“I only heard it half an hour ago,” he told Joe Duffy of the tragic news.

 “We didn’t talk much about it because it isn’t a nice thing. The only reason I rang in because Charles told me he wasn’t hitting him hard because he knew he had him beat. He said a child would have took those punches ‘because I knew I had him beat.’

“It’s very hard to say anything at this stage. The only point that I rang in was just to say, was that it’s alright you saying there were eight or nine blows, but the referee should have stopped that. It’s a different sport than boxing, and you know the consequences when you get in there.

“He said he knew he had the fight won; maybe the referee should have come in a bit quicker, I don’t know. “

When asked whether he wanted his son to be a fighter, Mr Ward declined to answer. Mr Ward had been involved with his son’s amateur boxing career, but said he no longer had an interest in combat sports.

“I can’t say that. It’s alright for me to answer a question there because a young boy is dead but I’m not going to answer that question. It could have been him (Charlie Ward) the same as the other lad. It is a worry, don’t get me wrong. But I can’t tell him what to do. If he’s happy doing it, I’m not going to stop him.”

Mr Ward intends to watch the fatal contest later today, and claimed that if he had any concerns about the safety in MMA, it was not the lack of protective headgear but the gloves used.

Boxing gloves tend to be 16oz, while those in MMA are just 4oz, which allows for the use of fingers in grappling.

“I’ll see it later on. This is a serious game, this is serious. The headgear I wouldn’t be too worried because we use them in boxing. The gloves I’d be a bit worried about- 4oz, you’d be getting hit a bit harder,” he said.

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