Joe Ward (red) finds the target tonight

Three-time European champion Joe Ward is through to a second successive World Elite final at the 19th edition of the AIBA flagship tournament in Hamburg, Germany.

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The Moate BC southpaw beat Uzbekistan’s Rio 2016 Olympic finalist Bektimer Melikuziev tonight to set up Saturday’s light-heavy final with Cuba’s defending champion Julio De La Cruz.

No. 3 seed Ward, a bronze and silver medallist at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds, showed his class for the third time this week to earn a 3-2 split decision over Melikuziev in an all southpaw 81kg clash this evening.

The durable and skilful Uzbek, the current Asian champion and No, 2 seed in Hamburg, reached the middleweight final at the Rio Olympics but has since moved up to light heavy.

Olympic champion and No. 1 seed De La Cruz, who beat Ward in the 2013 semi-final and 2015 final in Kazakhstan and Qatar, eliminated Ecuador’s No. 4 seed Carlos Mina tonight.

Ireland and France are the only western European countries through to the finals in Hamburg.

Ireland, Azerbaijan, France, Russia and Ukraine are the five European nations into Saturday’s gold medal matches.

World Elite Championships Hamburg, Germany

August 25th

(Last 32)

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

August 26th

(Last 32)

91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) beat Hyeon Do Kim (Korea) 5-0

August 27th

(Last 16)

64kg Sean McComb (Ireland) lost to Andy Cruz-Gomez (Cuba) 0-5

August 28th

(Last 16)

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

August 29th


81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Mikhail Dauhaliavets (Belarus) 5-0

September 1st


81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) beat Bektimer Melikuziev (Uzbekistan) 3-2
81kg Julio de la Cruz (Cuba) beat Carlos Mina (Ecuador) 5-0

September 2nd


81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) v Julio De La Cruz (Cuba)


Irish squad

52kg Brendan Irvine  (St Paul’s)
56kg Kurt Walker (Canal)
64kg Sean McComb (Holy Trinity)
81kg Joe Ward (Moate) cpt (Silver, 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