Steven Ward has been sensationally knocked out of the Golden Contract light heavyweight tournament.
The Newtownabbey man was stopped in the very first round of his quarter final versus Latvian Richards Bolotniks at the Brentwood Centre in Essex tonight.
Ward had chosen the Baltic boxer having picked a blue ball for the draw earlier this week but Bolotniks was just too strong, dropping the Commonwealth Games silver medallist thrice and wrangling the WBO European title from his grasp.
‘The Quiet Man’ Ward had entered off the back of his epic win over Liam Conroy – who won his quarter-final bout tonight – but was no match for the power of Bolotniks tonight.
A huge left hook put Ward down early in the first, a shot he did well to rise from. With a long time in the round to go, Ward was then dropped by a Bolotniks barrage – underlined by a nice uppercut inside.
💥 Bolotniks shocks Ward with 1st round KO! 💥
Ricards Bolotniks stops Steven Ward in the first round after Ward picked Bolotnik earlier in the week 👀 pic.twitter.com/UnkQaEIoCb
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) December 14, 2019
Again Ward rose but he was on extremely unsteady legs and, as the next Bolotniks assault came in, so did the towel from coach Jamie Moore.
The painful maiden defeat sees Ward slip to 12(4)-1(1) while the sensational upset win sees Bolotniks improve to 16(7)-5(3)-1 and move in to the semi-finals in the new year.
What’s next for Ward is unsure. Pundits have suggested that the Ulsterman may seek to move to cruiserweight – where he fought during his amateur career – and proposed that the weight-making process may have left him vulnerable tonight.