Joe Ward turns on style to carry Irish hopes in Hamburg

Joe Ward is the only Irish boxer left standing at the AIBA World Elite Championships after cruising to within one win of a third successive medal at this level in Hamburg, Germany.

Joe Ward turns on style to carry Irish hopes in Hamburg

The three-time European champion outclassed Georgia’s Iago Kizira yesterday, but Tipperary super-heavy Dean Gardiner and Antrim’s Rio 2016 flyweight Brendan Irvine bowed out following last 16 defeats to Columbia and Korea.

Ward, a silver and bronze medal winner at the 2015 and 2013 Worlds, produced a masterclass versus Kizira, the Rio Olympian winning 30-27,30-27,30-27,30-27, 30-24, with the durable Georgian rarely getting close to the Irish champion.

Kizira had one fight under his belt in Hamburg after his win over Scotland’s Sean Lazzerini at the weekend, but No. 3 seed Ward, who received a bye into the last 16, dictated the terms of Monday’s clash.

The pick of his punches was a superb right jab on the back foot in the second and a body shot which sucked the wind out of Kizira’s sails mid-way through the same frame.

He’ll now meet Mikhail Dauhaliavets of Belarus — who he beat in the 2015 World and European Championships — in today’s quarter-final with the winner guaranteed at least bronze.

Meanwhile, Irvine lost on a unanimous 30-27,30-27,30-27, 29-28,30-27 verdict to Korean southpaw Inkyu Kim in an explosive flyweight clash featuring just about every punch in the book.

Both men were down in the earlier rounds, but the ref ruled that both visits to the canvas were slips. Kim mostly used simple but effective two-punch combinations, with European bronze medallist Irvine finding the target with body and head shots.

Irvine started the third and final round well and rocked his opponent backwards with a sweeping right but went down under a right sliding out of an encounter on the ropes.

The Irish champion still looked unsteady after being dropped but launched one final attack. However, the punch that floored the No. 6 seed effectively sealed a last-eight place for Kim.

Tipperary orthodox Gardiner exited on a 3-2 split decision on Monday afternoon after a cracking encounter with Columbian No. 4 seed Cristian Salcedo.

Both men traded heavy shots from opening to closing bell in a see-saw 91kg+ showdown, but Salcedo, a World Series of Boxing fighter, got the nod on a 30-27, 29-28,29-28, 28-29,28-29 verdict to progress to the last-eight. “I thought Dean did enough,” said Martin Fennessey, Gardiner’s club coach at the Clonmel BC, from ringside in Hamburg.

“I thought Dean landed all the clean shots, better head movement, better feet. It was close, but we all thought Dean won it. Dean is ranked 47 in the world, but he didn’t look out of place with the number four seed today. Dean was fantastic. He did Ireland proud.” Ireland’s Georgia-born head coach Zaur Antia, John Conlan and Dimitry Dimitruc were working the Irish corner yesterday.

Meantime, Cuba’s defending light-heavy champion, Julio de la Cruz, who beat Joe Ward in the 2015 World final in Doha, eased past Mexico’s Rogelia Romera yesterday to advance to the last-eight.

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