Crucial fights ahead for RIO hopefuls Ward and Joyce

Joe Ward and David Oliver Joyce are heading into a crucial cycle in AIBA Pro Boxing (APB).

The Westmeath pair will have three outings before the end of the inaugural APB season in September. However, whether those bouts will be for places at the Olympics Games in Rio in 2016 or for rankings for the 2016 APB season is contingent on the results of their next fights.

Joyce is slated to meet Uzbekistan’s Uzbek lightweight Hurshid Tojibaev on May 29 and Ward meets France’s Mathieu Bauderlique in the light-heavy class on June 6. Both APB fights will be over eight rounds. The venues for both fights, which will be over eight rounds, have yet to be confirmed.

If the three-time AIBA World medallist and three-time EU champion win those outings their next fights will be for quota berths at Rio 2016 and places in the 2015 APB light-heavy and lightweight finals.

The top two ranked APB boxers (the finalists) in each weight class qualify for Rio 2016.

Mauritius’ Kennedy St Pierre and Bulgaria’s Spas Genov, who Ward has already beaten this season, and Brazil’s Robson Conceica and Russia’s Dmitry Polyanskiy clash in the corresponding APB light-heavy and lightweight fights this month and next.

The APB finals in September will be over twelve rounds. Iran’s Ehsan Rouzbahani, who edged out the then 17-year-old Ward on a count -back at the 2011 World Elite Championships, and Kazakhstan’s Berik Abdrahmanov, who have both qualified from the first phase earlier this year, await in the light-heavy and lightweight finals.

Ward neatly summed up why he and Joyce, who have nine Irish Elite belts between them, have little room for error.

He said: “APB is a new system with longer rounds, I adapt fairly quickly. I’m two fights away, but it’s like everything – two fights is a long way if you don’t win.”

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