Monday 18 December 2017

Joe Ward wins Ireland's third medal at the European Championships after dominant unanimous decision win

Joe Ward of Ireland. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Joe Ward of Ireland. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole & Sean McGoldrick

Rio Olympian Joe Ward has secured Ireland’s third medal at the European Boxing Championships in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The 23-year-old follows fellow Olympian Brendan Irvine and Kurt Walker into the semi-finals after a dominant unanimous decision win over Scotland's Sean Lazzerini.

Ward quickly took control of the fight after an aggressive start from Lazzerini to cruise to a 5-0 points decision to guarantee himself at least a bronze medal.

Earlier in the day Belfast flyweight Irvine beat Spanish southpaw Gabriel Escobar in the quarter-finals on a unanimous 5-0 points decision to guarantee himself a bronze medal.

Even though the Spaniard began the fight in an aggressive manner, Irvine took control of the fight and managed to keep his opponent at a distance and score with long range jabs.

Irvine, a medallist at the European Games in Baku in 2015, will now meet English flyweight Niall Farrell who caused a major upset in his quarter-final bout when he highly rated Italian Manuel Cappai.

Meanwhile, Sport Ireland sources have confirmed that light welterweight Sean McComb – who suffered a narrow 3-2 loss in his quarter-final bout – will be eligible for governing funding as a result of having qualified for the World championships in Hamburg later this year.

He could be awarded up to €12,000 a year and this figure would rise significantly if they made the last eight at the World event.

Walker claims medal number 50

Bantamweight Kurt Walker has claimed Ireland’s 50th medal at the European boxing championships, but light welterweight Sean McComb suffering an agonising loss in his bronze medal fight in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Walker reached the semi-finals and guaranteed himself a bronze medal by defeating Italian Raffaele De Serio on a split decision.

The pair clashed in the European U-22 championships earlier this year when the Italian won 4-1. Walker had been a late addition to the Irish team for the event.

On this occasion, however, it was Walker who looked the better fighter and the Italian looked under serious pressure particularly in the final round. It was no surprise when the Lisburn fighter got the verdict.

He will now face European silver and world bronze medallist and home favourite, Mykola Butsenko in the semi-final.

But there was bitter disappointment for McComb who lost to England’s Luke McCormack on a controversial 3-2 split decision.

The two judges who opted for the Belfast light welterweight gave him all three rounds but the other three judges gave the nod to McCormack 29-28.

So even though McComb secured more points, McCormack was advanced to the last four.

McCormack probably benefited from the fact that he looked the more aggressive fighter and succeeded in landing some big shots but McComb appeared to score more frequently with his jabs to both the head and body.

The only consolation for McComb is that he is assured of a place at the World Championships later this year which may be enough to persuade Sports Ireland to restore his funding.

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