Joe Ward is confident that his amateur pedigree will furnish him with further international success on the pro scene.
The 25-year-old yesterday unveiled plans for an October debut on America’s east coast, though his maiden opponent remains as yet unconfirmed.
Whilst a serial medallist at both European and World level, Ward says he is content to forgo Olympic goals in favour of pursuits in the paid ranks.
“I loved fighting for my country and had a very rewarding career as part of the national set- up, but I’m excited to start this new chapter”, said the now former Team Ireland captain.
“It’s been a very difficult situation; the decision has probably been a long time coming. I know a lot of people were expecting me to turn over after London 2012, then around Rio 2016 time. But I stuck around until the right fit came along for me to make the move.
Boxing is a short career, so we have to make the right decisions. There was no guarantee I would have ever won an Olympic medal. I had the potential but, as we’ve seen, a lot of stuff is outside your control. "The world targets I had as an amateur are the same as a pro, and I believe I have the style to be successful.
Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt was notably unveiled as the man charged with coaching Ward through that transition, the renowned New Yorker known for cornering the likes of Matthew Macklin, Paulie Malignaggi and Arturo Gatti.
McGirt has also latterly linked up with Sergey Kovalev, a champion in the light heavyweight division of which Ward is now part.
The Moate man had to this point been training in concert with amateur coach Jimmy Payne but will decamp to McGirt’s quarters ahead of an Autumnal bow.
“I knew before I turned professional, I would have to make sacrifices”, said homebird Ward of the relocation. “To be away from my kids is never easy, but that comes with the territory.
I’m committed, and when I’m committed, I give 100%.”
The soft-spoken Olympian was also at peace with the braggadocious, self-promotional leanings of his new enterprise.
“I wouldn’t be one [for trash talking], but we’re fighters. We all have a bit of nastiness in us, but I’m more intent on being a role model. I’m a laid-back person, someone that gets on with my job.
For me it’s just about being myself, and I'll do my talking with the gloves on.
“In the ring, I feel I have all the tools, I’m adaptable, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Lou DiBella and Joe Winters are primed to assume promotional and managerial roles respectively, with the latter describing his new recruit as a "once in a generation talent."
“Joe Ward is a future superstar in this sport “, remarked the Times Square Boxing head.
“I kept saying I wanted an Irish fighter, and I like everything about Joe. He’s got so much character, a family man, and that’s one of the things which really drew us to him. We’re looking forward to the journey, to try and make Joe the best fighter to come out of Ireland."
DiBella was similarly effusive: “Joe is not your average Irish boxer, he’s not your average boxer, period," said the Brooklynite, whose most recent native interest was with Andy Lee.
“He’s bright, good-looking, well-spoken. He can punch, he can fight, and his pedigree is impeccable. I know it was a tough decision not to go to the Olympics, we never pressured him to make that call.
"But amateur boxing is like the mafia, basically. It’s been corrupt. We didn’t even know six months ago that it would even make it to the Olympics, or who'd be running things.
"I think Joe made a very intelligent, reasoned decision. I believe any boxer with a pro style shouldn’t count on the Olympics. For Joe in particular, not only does he have the ability to be a champion, but he has the ability to be a face of boxing, to be something like Katie Taylor is in the women’s game. He has everything it takes to win titles within three years.
"Boxing is a dangerous game, and the objective is to win. I want Joe to get out as the same articulate, smart young guy that he is right now.” A venue and opponent for Ward's debut will be announced next week.