Wily Joe Ward outclasses Russian but Dean Gardiner makes exit

Irish light-heavyweight Joe Ward eased into the last-16 of the European Elite Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria yesterday, but Dean Gardiner is out.

Wily Joe Ward outclasses Russian but Dean Gardiner makes exit

Ward, one of the youngest international boxers of all time to win European Elite gold when aged just 17 in 2011, outclassed Russia’s Idris Shakhmonov on a unanimous decision (30-25, 30-27, 30-26).

The Russian should have been given a standing count in the second after being doubled over from punches, but the ref, bizarrely, gave Ward a ticking off for hitting his opponent.

O’Neill will now meet Georgia’s Nikoloz Sekchniashvili, who he beat in the Heydar Aliyev final in Baku in 2009, tomorrow.

“We’re very happy with his performance. Any day you beat a Russian boxer, particularly in the European Elite Championships, is a good day,” said Irish head coach Billy Walsh.

Gardiner lost to Croatian No. 1 seed Filip Hrgovic in the super-heavyweight class yesterday. Hrgovic, who has qualified for Rio 2016 through the World Series of Boxing, earned a 30-25,30-25,30-25 unanimous decision.

London 2012 bronze medallist Michael Conlan, Irish captain Darren O’Neill and Dean Walsh will be in last-16 action in Samokov today.

Conlan will be expected to advance against French bantam Tony Brett, but O’Neill is in against Russian No. 1 seed Evegeny Tischenko, a World Elite silver medallist, at heavyweight.

Walsh, a nephew of the Irish head coach, meets Romanian light-welterweight Florintine Niculescu over three, three minute rounds.

Meanwhile, undefeated Jason Quigley improved to eight wins and maintained his 100% KO rate with a second round TKO of 36-year-old Mike Faulk in California on Saturday night. The woeful Minnesota southpaw, who hadn’t fought since January 2013, was floored three times by the Donegal middleweight in the second round.

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