Joe Ward [0-1(1)] thought his pro career was over before it really started.
One of Ireland’s greatest ever amateur boxers suffered freak injury during his Madison Square Garden hosted debut.
The Moate BC graduate’s knee gave way during his clash Marco Delgado on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s vacant IBF middleweight title clash with Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
The injury brought back memories of the 2013 European Championships where Ward was eliminated after dislocating his left kneecap versus Mateusz Tryc – and it left the 25-year-old light heavyweight fearing the worst.
Ward told Kevin Byrne of SunSport: “It was devastating. When it happened, to me it was like the end of the world.
“I thought this could end my career. I could be finished.
“Walking out of Madison Square Garden, I thought, ‘This could be the end of my career, I might never box again’.
“I didn’t know how serious it was or how much damage I’d done. ‘Is it fixable?’ Especially as it was my second time.
“‘Will it always go on? Will I always have this long-term injury that will stop me from achieving my ultimate goals?’”
The Lou DiBella and Murphys Boxing promoted Times Square Management managed potential star admits it was a worrying time, but points out those around him played a massive role in getting him mentally right.
Ward is now adamant the freak October defeat was a bad start to what will be a great career rather than a dramatic end to what could have been something special.
“It was a lonely time. But it was great to have good people around me, who were very helpful and supportive.
“Definitely my team played a big part in keeping me 100 per cent focused.
“I knew then that this wasn’t the end of it — this was only the start of it.”
That agonising pro debut against Marco Delgado on the Gennady Golovkin v Sergiy Derevianchenko went down as a loss.
Ward will now look to register his first career win at the House of Blues on March 14. The decorated former amateur star is back training after a operation to put the knee issue right and will trade leather on a bill that included Ray Moylette and Niall Kennedy.
Assuring with regard to the injury he added: “Everyone is happy where I’m at. They said it’s nearly where we want it to be.
“They said it takes time to rebuild the muscle around the knee but the knee itself is 100 per cent secure.
“It will never happen again, that’s what the surgeon said. It’s all positivity.
“For me I’m not worried about it because I know I put the work in.
“For me it’s 100 per cent ready but we’re working away to put the muscle back in, nothing a training camp can’t do.”