Ward’s dreams are shattered

Joe Ward’s defeat at the Olympic qualifying tournament stunned everyone but the local fans who arrived to cheer their hometown hero Bahram Muzaffer after the Turk had managed to extract an 18-15 victory from the judges.

The decision left Irish coach, Billy Walsh, fuming and, along with team manager, Des Donnelly, he immediately got in touch with the president of the IABA, Tommy Murphy, and they lodged a protest that was unsuccessful, believing the Moate boxer had clearly won the fight.

“This was something we felt might happen, coming out here,” Walsh said.

“You are here in front of a partisan crowd and even if Joe is hitting, they can be pressing the wrong buttons. You don’t know. It’s very unfortunate. We’ve had two chances to qualify and he has not done it.

“Joe is ahead of his time as regards Olympic qualification — he’s 18 years of age — he really should be looking at the next time around. But he’s an awesome talent and he is up there with the best in the world. A month ago he beat the world and European champion in the Chemistry Cup and beat the World No 2. They will be all very happy to see that he has not qualified for London.”

At no time did Ward appear behind in this contest. He scored with a big right hand to the head straight away. Muzaffer slipped inside his second right and drove his own right into the Moate man’s body but Ward replied with another right to the head and placed a straight left flush on Muzaffer’s chin.

Muzaffer was untidy and, although he got through with some solid shots, Ward rocked him back with another left at the end of the round. Somehow, Muzaffer won the round 5-4. The referee cautioned Muzaffer a number of times for spoiling and in the multiple combinations thrown in the next round, Ward always had the last word. The 18-year-old was outpunching in toe-to-toe exchanges but the Turk managed to draw the round 7-7.

The last round, however, was the most infuriating of all. Ward pushed forward and Muzaffer ended up on his hands and knees as his form deteriorated. Again Ward caught him with a looping left to the head and followed up with a quick right hand. All the time the Turk was tying him up and hanging on but, while he cautioned him a number of times, the referee let him away with his spoiling tactics. One could not even imagine how he managed to score six points to win a round that was dominated by Ward.

Elsewhere, Adam Nolan outpointed the European student champion, Tomasz Kot (Poland), 14-9, to advance to the last eight in the welterweight division. The two finalists will go to London next summer from those qualifiers and he is now just two bouts away from that.

Tomorrow afternoon he meets Tamerlan Abdullayev (Azerbaijan) who defeated Simeon Chamov (Bulgaria) on countback after the fight was tied at 12-12. “I sparred Abdullayev a couple of times at training camp in the Ukraine so he doesn’t have any secrets,” said Nolan.

He may have to win the gold medal to qualify for the Olympics but Belfast heavyweight, Tommy McCarthy, showed he is capable of doing just that with a controlled performance against Colpa Alen (Bosnia Herzegovina) that saw him win each round 4-1 on his way to a convincing 12-3 victory. That earned him the right to meet Jozsef Darmos (Hungary) tomorrow evening for a place in the quarter-finals.

Like Joe Ward, super heavyweight Con Sheehan faced a highly-charged atmosphere when he went in against Erhan Aci from Turkey. But he tied the first round 5-5 before falling victim to the Turk’s two-fisted onslaughts and eventually losing 17-12.

Light welterweight Ross Hickey had the dubious distinction of being the first Irish boxer to exit the tournament when he was outpointed by the Moldovan teenager, Dmitri Galagot, 24-11, in what proved to be a frustrating contest for the Co Wicklow army man, who took two standing counts in the third round.

“I had a good first round but I got caught with a few silly shots at the end of the first round and I had to come chasing it after that,” he admitted.

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