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Boxing: Ward focused on Joyce duel

EUROPEAN champion Joe Ward believes that forgetting about last year is the key to completing the double over Davey Joe Joyce at the National Stadium tonight.

The defending Irish light-heavyweight champion meets Joyce in a repeat of their 2011 semi-final duel, which Ward won 8-2 en route to claiming his first Elite belt.

However, the Moate 18-year-old, who shocked Kenny Egan in last year's final, reckons that his win over Joyce last year will count for nothing tonight.

"It's a different fight and I'm going to have to go in there and perform to my best," said Ward, who won gold in last year's World Youth Championship. "It means the world to me to retain my title and to qualify for the Olympics."

Ward, officially ranked third in the world, admitted that he was angry with himself after losing out at the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Baku last year.

And, if he gets a second opportunity at the final Olympic qualifiers for European male boxers in Turkey in April, he's determined not to make the same mistake twice.

"I was disgusted with myself for not doing what I'm good at. These things happen in boxing, but I've learned from my mistakes and that's why I want to perform now.

"I don't want to think about winning or losing -- I just want to go in there and perform, and the winning takes over itself."

Meanwhile, London 2012 Olympians Michael Conlan and John Joe Nevin will be in action for the first time at the Elite Championships tonight.

The St Michael's Athy club are guaranteed to have two boxers in the lightweight and welterweight finals from tomorrow's semi-finals.

Athy team-mates Eric Donovan and David Oliver Joyce clash at lightweight, and Roy Sheahan and John Joe Joyce meet in the second all-St Michael's duel at welter.

Egan will meet Eamon Walsh tomorrow night, with the winner progressing to meet either Ward or Joyce in next Friday's 81kg final.

Elsewhere, David Oliver Joyce has lost his appeal against his defeat to Danish lightweight Rashid Kaseem in the World Series of Boxing (WSB).

Kaseem was adjudged to have narrowly beaten Joyce, who is signed with Istanbul in the WSB, when the Turkish side lost to Germany's Leipzig Leopards on December 3.

The Turks lodged a protest against the decision on behalf of Joyce. However, the December result was upheld.

Irish Independent