Joe Ward revealed the arrival of the right pro team rather than any issues he had with the High Performance team or amateur boxing in general prompted him to turn over.
The talented Moate and Sparticus BC graduate was seen as a nailed-on Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal hope, but just weeks shy of the European Games confirmed he was ditching the vest in a bid to forge a pro career.
The timing of the move the raised eyebrows, but most deduced that the 25-year-old’s decision was sparked by the uncertainty surrounding boxing in the Olympics and the qualifying structure – issues which have been resolved in recent weeks.
However, the three-time European amateur champion and three-time World Championships medallist points out he was tempted into making the switch because he finally found the right people to guide a pro career.
Ward had plenty of offers from managers and promoters around the world, but felt Times Square Boxing run by Joe Winters and Adam Glenn were best suited to his needs – and armed with a team he felt could help him become a successful pro he made the ‘difficult’ decision to leave the amateurs.
“Look, it’s been a very difficult [decision] for me to make,” he said at a press conference in Dublin on Tuesday.
“It’s been a long time coming. A lot of people expected me to go pro after London, or maybe after Rio, but I stuck around because I always wanted the right team around me — to meet the right people. Because, as we know, in boxing, we have a short enough career, so we’ve got to make the right decisions. And when I met Joe [Winters, manager] a few months ago, we clicked straight away: he had a vision, I had a vision on what we wanted to do.”
There was a degree of disappointment surrounding the now Lou DiBella and Ken Casey promoted fighter’s decision to leave the amateur ranks with the Olympic’s just a year away.
Yet still there is a degree of excitement as to the pro career a fighter, who burst on the scene by stopping Kenny Egan winning an 11th successive Irish title as a 17 year old, can have.
Regardless, Ward claims ‘it’s time to move on’ and is excited at the prospect of begging a new ‘chapter’.
“I’m grateful for the opportunities I was given in the amateur game, but I think it’s a new chapter for me now; I think it’s time for me to move on.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It was always going to be a very difficult situation and decision for me to make. I felt like this was the right time for me to go,” he adds before stressing an Olympic medal was never a given.
“As you know, I’ve been in Multi-Nations [tournaments] previously and there’s no guarantees I would have been Olympic medalist.”