Joe Ward’s Rio 2016 Olympic aspirations will have to be put on ice for now after he was beaten by French light-heavyweight Mathieu Bauderlique in AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The Irish southpaw was stopped in the fourth round in the Bulgarian capital.
Bauderlique will now meet either Spas Genov of Bulgaria or Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius for a place at Rio 2016 and the 2015 APB 81kg final.
Ward started brightly tonight. Boxing well behind his jab, the ex European Elite champion took the first frame on a split and the second across the board.
Bauderlique, however, upped the pace to claim the third stanza on all three judges’ cards and forced Ward back onto the ropes and into a standing count in the fourth. The ref correctly stopped the scheduled eight-rounder after Bauderlique fired home another barrage of unanswered shots immediately after the count.
Ward will be in action one last time in APB this season for a ranking place against either Genov or St Pierre, who meet later tonight in Sofia, next month.
*Genov, who Ward has beaten in APB this season, comfortably beat St Pierre on points tonight.*