Boxing: Ward dream in tatters after freak injury
JOE WARD agonisingly crashed out of the European Championships following a freak injury during his bout against Polish light-heavyweight Mateusz Tryc at the Palace of Sport in Minsk, Belarus.
The Moate BC (Westmeath) southpaw was completely in control of the last-16 bout when a clash of knees with just 20 seconds remaining in the third and final round TKO'd his ambitions of becoming the first Irish male boxer to win back-to-back European titles.
Irish physio Conor McCarthy revealed afterwards that the 2011 European champion had dislocated his left knee cap.
Ward's coach Eddie Bolger said that the Irish elite champion's focus was now on getting back to full fitness for the World Championships in Kazakhstan in October.
"These things can happen. It could have happened in training or in sparring. Unfortunately, it happened in the European Championships. It's disappointing, very unlucky as Joe wanted to win a second European gold," said a disheartened Bolger.
"Even if he had managed to see out the fight he would have been out of the Europeans as he's in a cast now. It's a great pity as he won the first two rounds and was well on top in the third and looked in great shape."
Ray Moylette, another gold medal winner at the 2011 European Championships, also exited yesterday on a unanimous decision to Turkish light-welter Huseyin Karslioglu.
The St Anne's BC Co Mayo orthodox dropped a 29-28 29-28 29-28 verdict to the Turk in the 64kg class.
Meanwhile, Tipperary super-heavyweight Con Sheehan was unlucky to lose on a split decision to Georgia's Mikheil Bakhtidze, while Belfast flyweight Michael Conlan, the No 2 seed in the flyweight class, outclassed Narek Abgaryan of Armenia.
The London 2012 bronze medallist took all three rounds 30-27 across the board to set up a quarter-final clash with Siarhei Loban of Belarus tomorrow.
Olympic silver and bronze medalists John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes and Jason Quigley, Adam Nolan and Tommy McCarthy will compete today.