Joe Ward survives late scare to progress in Worlds – 1 win away from medal

Moate light heavyweight Joe Ward has won his opening bout at the 18th edition of the World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Having received a bye to the Last 16, Ward was made to work for the win and survived some hairy moments in the final round to overcome Ukrainian youngster Oleksandr Khyzniak.

Ward began well, showing lots of good movement and his trademark quick hands to take the opening round although his Eastern European opponent did land a few warning shots on the chin of the Westmeath man.

The second stanza was more of a toe-to-toe affair, and Ward showed that he can fight as well as box, and out-muscled his opponent on the inside, knocking his gumshield out with a lovely left-hook.

The final round was an edge-of-your-seat affair. With over two minutes remaining, Ward was hurt by a flurry of shots from his onrushing opponent who needed a stoppage win. Big Joe however showed brains aplenty to run down the clock with fancy footwork, tying Khyzniak up on the inside, and landing the occasional counter, to survive to the bell.

After 9 minutes of varied and exciting action, the Irishman was adjudged to have won a deserved split decision.

Ward will now face Mikhail Dauhaliavets of Belarus in the quarter finals with a second World Championships bronze medal on the line for the 21 year old.

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