Joe Ward was ready to come to the rescue and make sure Boxxer and Sky Sports still had a mouthwatering light heavyweight fight on top of their Saturday night bill.
The Moate BC graduate offered to step in and fight 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Joshua Buatsi in London at short notice.
Buatsi was meant to trade leather with Commonwealth and European champion, Dan Azeez at the O2 and live on Sky Sports this weekend. However, the eagerly anticipated South London derby was ‘postponed’ after the champion suffered a back injury in training.
Ward via his promoter Lou DiBella offered to step in at five days’ notice.
The Westmeath southpaw told Kevin Byrne of SunSport: “My promoter Lou DiBella got in touch with Buatsi’s team to say I’m willing to step in for Azeez on five days’ notice.”
One of Irish boxing’s greatest-ever amateurs is in training for a November 18 Letterkenny-hosted fight with Ghanian puncher, Prince Oko Nartey, so would be fit enough to fight. The Irish star also points out that his three European amateur titles and World Championship silver and bronze medals prove he has the pedigree to step up the pro levels.
“Given my amateur background, and the fact that I’m currently in camp for my next fight so I’m in shape, I feel it’s an opportunity I’d love to take,” he adds before predicting he’s beat the British talent.
“I’d be going over to win. I wouldn’t put my career on the line if I didn’t fully believe I could beat him. We never shared the ring in our amateur days so I’d love to get the chance to do so as a pro.
“The fans would be spoiled, that’s for sure.
“If he’s still going to fight on the bill, and if he still wants a test to show that he should be the No 1 contender for a world title fight, then I’d certainly give him that test.
“I’m not sure he believes he can beat me, so maybe his team won’t go for it.
“I like Josh, he’s a really nice guy. I was looking forward to seeing him fight Azeez but these things happen in boxing, I know all about injuries.
“There’s not many good fighters going to offer to step in at such short notice so I hope he still wants a huge test — because I’d be coming over to put him under pressure and get the win.”
With no news at this stage and the card downgraded to the York Hall, it’s most likely the offer was rebuffed.
However, it does show Ward’s intent and willingness to get moving. Speaking recently to Irish press the fighter who has fought across the Atlantic since turning over said he wanted to fight some of Britain’s big names at the weight.
“The groundwork is done now it’s time to fight over in Europe and stamp my authority on the division and look for the big fights. Dan Azeez, Joshua Buatsi, Lydon Arthurs all these guys. I believe I’m better than each one of them but I just have to get the opportunity.”