Joe Ward is loving being back in the National Elite Senior Championships.
The Moate big man has not competed in his home tournament since 2014 due to his AIBA Pro Boxing Commitments, and would make a successful return last week with a fairly comfortable semi final win over Dubliner Michael Frayne.
Tonight Ward fights for his fifth title, with another Dubliner, Tony Browne, standing in his way. The Westmeath man, still only 23, is hoping to secure the title and become a team leader for the Tokyo Olympic cycle.
Speaking after his win over Frayne, Ward described how ““it was nice to get back in there and settle in nicely and get the win.”
“The mind always tells you you’re a bit rusty when you’re out that long and you feel a bit different, but I felt okay in there. It wasn’t really a hard one but it was a gutsy performance by him and it was nice to get the three rounds under my belt.”
Enjoying being back on the South Circular Road, he noted that “it’s been a long time since I was in there. There’s no better place to box than the National Stadium. It’s a special place and it’s where it started for a lot of success all over the world and there’s a great buzz to it.”
Ward turned down plenty of pro advances in the wake of his shock Olympic loss to Carlos Mina, and the double European gold medalist explained that his Rio disappointment played a big part in this decision.
“That’s the motivation now that I have,” he said. “Whatever went on in Rio and what happened. to make sure it doesn’t happen again and bring this team on to big things.”
“Hopefully we can all perform and train well together and learn from each other”.
“I want to show these lads how it’s done – how to go to Majors and win medals. They need someone like me who’s been there and done that to bring this new team to back to where Irish boxing should be, at the top.”
Eric Donovan joins Gavan Casey and Joe O’Neill on Episode 2 of the Irish Boxing Show: