Joe Ward had to settle for silver after losing out to Julio La Cruz in the light-heavyweight final at the World Elite Championships in Hamburg, Germany tonight.
The Cuban, who has now won four World gold medals on the bounce and whose defence mechanism is right up there with Floyd Mayweather, beat the Irish captain on a unanimous decision in the 81kg gold medal match – 30-27,30-27,29-28,29-28,29-28.
La Cruz was on the floor early in the first after a tangle of legs, as Ward, who lost out in the 2015 final to the current Olympic champion, piled on the pressure.
But the elusive Pan American champion recovered sufficiently from a shaky start and began working fluently behind his raking jab, Ward responding with solid hooks and jabs of his own in a very technical contest.
Ward claimed three wins from four fights since last Monday and will be bringing home his second silver medal from the flagship tournament of international boxing.
The podium finish should also guarantee Ireland a top ten berth in the medals table (to be confirmed).
Two Irish boxers, Sean McComb and Brendan Irvine, lost out to eventual medallists in the preliminaries in Hamburg. Andy Cruz-Gomez of Cuba, who claimed gold, beat McComb and Korea’s Inkyu Kim, who outpointed Irvine, will be taking home bronze.
Likewise, two members of the five-strong Irish team lost to the eventual champions.
Kazakhstan claimed the bantam title vacated by Ireland’s Michael Conlan – who won bantam gold at Doha 2015 and turned pro – on a 3-2 split decision over Duke Ragan of the USA this evening.
France’s Sofiane Oumiha,who was asked plenty of questions by Ireland’s Patrick Mongan (Olympic BC) and George Bates (St Mary’s BC) in a Round Robin at Dublin’s National Stadium earlier this year, won 60kg gold this evening in a superb showing from Les Bleus lightweight.
The Irish squad are due home at 1.55pm tomorrow afternoon, September 3rd, via Dublin Airport via Hamburg (Terminal 1, Flight, Ryanair FR8512).
All media are invited to attend Sunday’s homecoming.
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) beat Bektimer Melikuziev (Uzbekistan) 3-2
81kg Julio de la Cruz (Cuba) beat Carlos Mina (Ecuador) 5-0
81kg Joe Ward (Ireland) lost to Julio La Cruz (Cuba) 0-5
52kg Brendan Irvine (St Paul’s)
56kg Kurt Walker (Canal)
64kg Sean McComb (Holy Trinity)
81kg Joe Ward (Moate) cpt (Silver)
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