David Oliver Joyce stopped in Golden Contract quarter-finals

David Oliver Joyce has been eliminated at the quarter-final stage of the Golden Contract competition tonight at the York Hall.

The Mullingar featherweight was in action in the final last eight bout of the tournament which offers the winner a five-fight deal with a major promoter with six-figure guaranteed purses.

32-year-old Joyce gave everything in a ferocious contest with Leigh Wood but was stopped standing in the ninth round by the Commonwealth champion.

In truth, the Rio Olympian was always second best to a very impressive opponent but pressed hard and certainly can leave London with his head held high.

Joyce had made his breakthrough into major fights earlier this year, stopping Scot Stephen Tiffney to claim the WBO European title and following this up with a wide win over Breilor Teran.

Wood, on the other hand, exploded into prominence with a statement stoppage over Ryan Doyle in May.

Both were tipped to prosper in the WBSS-styled competition and there were eyebrows raised when first-pick Wood elected to face Joyce, noting that he had seen holes in the Irishman’s game.

Wood certainly looked the bigger man as the fight began but it was Joyce who started on the front foot. The Nottingham switch-hitter, however, looked to have gotten into his groove quicker, working off the jab well and landing a nice left hook in the closing seconds.

A more open second round saw both land well, with Joyce briefly visiting the canvas via the momentum of one of his own shots with no knockdown called. It was the quicker and rangy Wood, however, doing the better work and he would send Joyce down for real with a straight left. The Mullingar man rose and looked to fight back but was quite obviously hurt and Wood would target the body to the bell.

Coming out in the third, Joyce pressed and landed some cuffing blows but was being picked off by Wood on the way in. Nose bloodied, Joyce continued to march forward gallantly in what was already the most exciting fight of the night in Bethnal Greene.

‘The Punisher’ landed a big left hook at the start of the fourth, his best punch of the fight thus far, and pressure well before a nice volley to finish from Wood.

Both were warned for low blows in the fifth before they traded huge shots on the ropes. An animated Joyce was looking to make it a dogfight but it was Wood landing the firmer punches.

Entering into the second half of the fight, Joyce enjoyed a strong sixth, landing flurries and taking the round.

The tide was threatening to turn with Joyce bullrushing Wood at the start of the seventh but the triple EU gold medallist was massively hurt by a counter right hook that had him out on his fight. Wood went for the finish and referee Marcus McDonnell was primed to step in but Joyce managed to survive the flurry before being put down at the bell, more due to exhaustion than anything, to further dent the scorecards.

Not knowing any other approach, a hurt Joyce continued to press in the eighth, doing well in spurts but again looking hurt when Wood opened up.

Wood seemed tired in the ninth as the Joyce forward march continued but, once again, when the action opened up, the Irishman was hurt trading. In the split-second moment, referee McDonnell jumped in, perhaps early, but the result had been sealed.

The disappointing defeat sees the unimaginably brave Joyce drop to 11(8)-1(1) while the impressive Wood improves to 23(13)-1(1)

Earlier in the night there was a big win for Derry’s Tyrone McCullagh over Razaq Najib as well as victories for Ryan Walsh and Jazza Dickens who will all join Wood in the semis next year.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie