Joe Ward [8(4)-1(1)] wants to start what he hopes will be a breakout year with an impressive win in Canada tonight.
One of Ireland’s greatest-ever amateurs fights for the first time in 2023 on the undercard of an IBF eliminator at his weight between Jean Pascal and German Michael Eifert.
The 29-year-old goes into the fight on the back of a career-best win over Frenchman Frederic Julan at Madison Square Garden but a performance he wasn’t overly happy with.
The Lou DiBella mentored light heavyweight told Kevin Byrne of the Sun that he went into that fight sick and thus had to battle rather than impress his way to victory. The Moate BC graduate is in fine health ahead of his fight Mario Andrade Rodriguez [7(4)-0] on St Patrick’s Day Eve and is determined to start what he believes will be a big year with a bang,
“I couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone over the last number of weeks. I’ve been sparring with some good-quality fighters, so I’m in a good place and I’m buzzing to fight on Thursday,” he told the Westmeath Independent. “As I’ve said before, this is a really big year for me and I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead. I have to push on and make a statement this year,” he said.
“At the moment I’m ranked 32 in the world on Boxrec, which is great for a guy with nine fights, but I want to push into the top 20 this year,” he adds before revaeling he is eyeing up step up and a possible homecoming.
“I’ve been talking with my team about taking on some big fights and maybe bringing a fight back to Ireland at the end of this year or early next year.”
Tonight’s opponent is something of an unknown entity. His Boxrec record has him unbeaten in seven with four knockouts to his name, but there is footage of him losing on a Junior Granados undercard online.
The West Meath man admits he doesn’t know what to expect style-wise but knows Mexican will be coming to win, meaning he has to be ready to fight.
“When I’m coming up against fighters with winning records, they’re coming to win. I have to be on my ‘A’ game, and if the opportunity is there to be ruthless I have to be ruthless,” he said.
The decorated former amateur has camped for this fight in New York at the Bout Fight Club, where he worked under Joey Gamache
“Joey Gamache has been putting in the work with me. We’re working hard and he’s confident that I’m improving.
“That’s always good to hear from someone like him, because he’s been a great fighter and he’s a great coach. He feels I’m getting better as a fighter and he believes there’s more to come.”