Joe Ward secures at least bronze at World Championships

Moate southpaw, who is only remaining Irish interest, won with his second 5-0 decision

Joe Ward goes into Friday’s semi-final with a bronze medal already secured. Photograph: Inpho

Joe Ward goes into Friday’s semi-final with a bronze medal already secured. Photograph: Inpho

 

An irresistible Joe Ward cruised into the World Championships semi-finals with a 5-0 unanimous decision over Mikhail Dauhaliavets in Hamburg.

The win ensures the 23-year-old wins at least a bronze medal facing into his third successive World Championship semi-final, although a gold medal would be his outright ambition.

Ward has won bronze at World Championship level before, the first in Almaty as a teenager in 2013 and then silver in Doha two years ago to add to his three European gold medals.

Katie Taylor aside, he is easily Ireland’s most decorated amateur boxer at elite championship level.

The Moate southpaw won on all five judge’s scorecards as he outclassed an opponent he has now beaten three times in a row at championship level. It was Dauhaliavets, who Ward also defeated in the Doha 2015 World Championship quarterfinals, so he knew well the aggressive, come forward style he was about to face.

But there was little complaint from the Belarussian when the referee raised the Irishman’s hand. Although he had bravely come forward in all three rounds looking for an opening, barely once did he penetrate Wards stiff right jab.

Boxing at a distance, it was Ward who held control of the match, scoring at will and more impressively never really appearing to rise into top gear to construct the win.

Ward won 10-9 on four of the scorecards with the German judge handing him 10-8 in a bout that he never once stood back from dominating.

It was European light-heavyweight champion Ward’s second 5-0 decision, having also earned a 5-0 unanimous decision over Georgian Iago Kiziria on Monday night in what was his first bout at the tournament.

Ward, who is the last remaining Irish interest from a team of five, received a bye to the last 16 because of his seeding as the third ranked boxer in the world at 81kg.

Coaches Zaur Antia and John Conlan in his corner have clearly brought on a more mature boxer, whose movement has improved immensely and whose poise, even with his opponent lurching forwards, belied his relatively young age.

And the Irishman began as he finished with the right jabs and dangerously swinging left whenever he got the chance.

Fighting at a distance his movement and striking power seemed almost effortlessly in control and by the end of the second round, Dauhaliavets was left with no option but to somehow, desperately KO his opponent.

That never looked like a realistic outcome as Ward kept moving and scoring in the exchanges. Ward now faces Asian champion, Bektemir Melikuziev from Uzbekistan in Friday’s semi-final.

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