Ward looking forward to WSB debut
Boxing:Moate light-heavyweight Joe Ward is relishing his World Series of Boxing debut in Newport on Friday. After putting his professional ambitions on hold after failing to qualify for the London Olympics, the 19-year-old will fight for the GB Lionhearts.
The 2011 European champion will fight alongside two Olympic silver-medallists in the shape of compatriot John Joe Nevin, who will face Branimir Stankovic of Serbia, and Welshman Fred Evans. The latter's compatriot, Olympic flyweight Andrew Selby, will also be in action at Celtic Manor.
Ward says the disappointment of not making the Olympic Games has passed now and he is only looking ahead, in particular to his bout with Hungarian Imre Szello. Ward beat the Hungarian en route to winning his first European title at the age of just 17.
“Non-qualification, particularly in the circumstances, was a huge setback but the Olympic disappointment is firmly behind me now and I am looking forward to the future with a lot of hope,” said the Irishman.
“The WSB format is totally different in that the bouts are more regular so I will have to maintain my fitness levels. Only top boxers are invited to participate so clearly the improved standard will be of benefit.”
Ward took his bid to reach London to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after losing a hotly disputed decision to Turkey’s Bahram Muzaffer in the final Olympic qualifier and seeing the wildcard place go to Montenegro’s lower-ranked Ratko Draskovic.
He has now signed up to the WSB until either February or May, depending on how the Lionhearts fare. They began their campaign last week with a win over the USA Knockouts in California.
After that, the Irishman appears open to suggestions, with professional promoters inevitably circling.
“My plan for the immediate future is to remain amateur and hopefully defend my Irish senior title in February. I am committed to the GB Lionhearts until at least the end of February, and until early May if the team is successful.
“It is fair to say I have a number of opportunities available to me at present but neither I nor my team are yet prepared to look too far into the future. For now I am concentrating on my first fight for the Lionhearts.”