Joe Ward cruised to his second victory in 24 hours at the World Elite Championships to guarantee Ireland at least bronze at the 19th edition of the tournament in Hamburg, Germany.
The Moate BC southpaw recorded a third successive win over Belarusian light-heavy Mikhail Dauhaliavets – 30-27-30-27-30-27,30-27,30-26 to book his ticket into Friday’s 81kg semi-final.
A silver and bronze medallist at the 2015 and 2013 Worlds, Ward, who made his debut at this level aged just 17 in Baku in 2011, will now meet Uzbekistan’s Rio 2016 finalist Bektimer Melikuziev in the semi-finals on Friday.
Melikuzieve, the reigning Asian champion, who beat Kazakhstan’s Yerik Alzhanov tonight, has since moved up a notch from middleweight to light-heavy since Rio.
Ward, except for an overhand left from Dauhaliavets in the second, was rarely troubled and boxed most of the contest behind his ramrod right jab, consistently straightened the aggressive Belarussin with that punch in each frame.
The back hand was also employed, with the Irish captain firing in some rapid combinations in the third against the No. 6 seed, who, to his credit, never stopped coming forward.
Ward is now the first Irish male boxer – Katie Taylor has won six – to claim three World Elite medals. The Moate BC man has also won three European titles since 2011, a haul of six major medals in the last five years.
He’ll be looking to upgrade his guaranteed bronze to at least silver versus the No. 2 seed on Friday evening. The finals will be held Saturday.
Tonight’s win guarantees Irish boxing a second World Elite medal from Germany. Tommy Corr claimed bronze for Ireland, our first podium finish at this level, in Munich in 1982.
Click here for all results so far.
World Elite Championships Hamburg, Germany
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) lost to Leonel De Los Santos (Dominican Republic) 1-4
64kg Sean McComb (Ireland) beat Joedison De Jesus (Brazil) 4-1
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) beat Hyeon Do Kim (Korea) 5-0
64kg Sean McComb (Ireland) lost to Andy Cruz-Gomez (Cuba) 0-5
52kg Brendan Irvine (Ireland) lost to Inkyu Kim (Korea) 0-5
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Iago Kizira (Georgia) 5-0
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) lost to Cristian Salcedo (Columbia) 2-3
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Mikhail Dauhaliavets (Belarus) 5-0
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) v Bektimer Melikuziev (Uzbekistan)
81kg Julio de la Cruz (Cuba) v Carlos Mina (Ecuador)
52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s)
56kg Kurt Walker (Canal)
64kg Sean McComb (Holy Trinity)
81kg Joe Ward (Moate) cpt (Bronze, at least)
91+kg Dean Gardiner (Clonmel)
Team manager/High-Performance Director: Bernard Dunne
Coaches: Zaur Antia, John Conlan and Dmitry Dimitruc
Doctor: Jim Clover
Physio: Seamus Caffrey
Performance Analysis: Alan Swanton