Joe Ward is last Irishman standing at World Championships
Light-heavyweight recorded unanimous victory as Gardiner and Irvine both eliminated
Joe Ward recorded a 5-0 unanimous decision victory over Iago Kiziria on Monday night. Photograph: Inpho
Joe Ward is the last Irishman standing at the World Championships after the Westmeath southpaw emerged victorious on an otherwise disappointing day for Team Ireland in Hamburg.
European light-heavyweight champion Ward recorded a comprehensive 5-0 unanimous decision victory over Georgian Iago Kiziria on Monday night in what was his first bout at the tournament. The 23-year-old Irishman had received a bye to the last 16 thanks to his seeding as the No 3 boxer at 81kg.
Ward’s success against Kiziria tees up a quarter-final clash against Mikhail Dauhaliavets of Belarus, the No 6 light-heavyweight, on Tuesday evening.
The Westmeath man could yet set up a final meeting with Ibragim Bazuev - and, therefore, his old coach Eddie Bolger - although Germany’s Russian-born light-heavyweight will have to shock Cuban world champion Julio La Cruz on Tuesday if that match-up is to remain a possibility.
Bolger, who is now head coach of Germany, has already accepted the fact that he may yet have to go up against his old pupil should the pair both eventually progress to the 81kg decider.
“Joe knows that the best way I can respect him is doing my best to try and get a guy to beat him,” said Bolger. “We have a very, very good 81 [BAZUEV]here in Germany. Is he at the calibre to beat Joe and the likes? He’ll take a lot of beating, but is he up to it with Joe and the Cuban? We’ll have to see, but he’s very, very good.
“My relationship with Joe is exactly the same as it was apart from [moving to Germany],” continued the coach. “He’s always been like a son and he’s always been somebody who’d ring you up for advice, but he’s been on the phone more now than we’ve ever been,” added Bolger, who still has six boxers involved in the tournament.
“It’s not often you get a World Championships in your home country,” said Bolger. “You’re going to get opportunities to win medals… We’ve just got to be ready and in good enough shape and prepared that we can take it when it comes.”
Ward is the only Irish boxer still involved in Hamburg as Irvine and Gardiner both suffered losses following weekend defeats for Belfast light-welter Seán McComb and Lisburn bantamweight Kurt Walker.
Irvine and Korean Kim Inkyu produced a fire fight in their 52kg last-16 clash, with the Belfast flyweight, the No 6 boxer at 52kg, losing out via unanimous decision in his opening bout against the aggressive southpaw.
The pair traded heavy blows in the first couple of rounds and while Irvine enjoyed a good start to the third and final round, his hopes were dashed after a big right hand from the Korean put the Irishman on the canvas.
Earlier, Clonmel super-heavyweight Gardiner was eliminated following a close split-decision loss to Columbia’s Cristian Salcedo Codazzi.
Gardiner was competitive throughout the bout, regularly working his opponent’s body, but a 3-2 points tally went against him.
Ward, a finalist at the last World Championships and a 2013 bronze medallist, ended the day on a high, however, with a dominant win.
Irish head coach Zaur Antia was up against a Georgian compatriot in the form of Kiziria and the trainer will have been pleased by Ward’s performance as the Moate southpaw delivered a stylish display, peppering his foe with jabs.