Joe Ward’s Olympic ambitions were dashed last Wednesday night as the Moate bruiser came up against an awkward brick wall in the shape of Carlos Andres Mina of Ecuador in the Light-Heavyweight preliminary round of 16 in Rio.
This was no vintage performance from Ward, but he may well feel aggrieved in the wake of this defeat having landed what appeared to be the cleaner blows throughout three intense rounds of fighting.
Ward looked comfortable and confident in the first round, picking his punches and moving despite his opponent’s determination to dominate the centre of the ring. A smile at the end of the first suggested he was enjoying himself and was comfortable.
However, things began to unravel quickly in the second as Mina came forward more frequently. However, the Ecuadorian fighter showed little poise in the manner in which he boxed, looking increasingly clumsy and even erratic at times in his approaches the more the bout progressed.
Mina’s attacks kept him close to Ward and denied the Moate man the opportunity to exercise his powerful jab, sucking him into a grappling match he did not want to be a part of. While Ward appeared at a loss with how to deal with his opponent’s methods, he still appeared to be the more accomplished fighter and never looked troubled by Mina’s power.
Ward was penalised by the referee in the second round for dropping his head, but it was Mina’s tactics that kept forcing the fighters to clench, and he was as guilty as the Irishman if not more so.
It was clear after the second that Ward needed to come out strong in the third and final round, but his opponent continued to come forward. Mina took some solid blows in the process, but in a game of small margins the referee hit Ward with a further penalty point for dropping his head, something which turned the fight in the favour of the Ecuadorian.
Ward appeared to raise his eyes to the heavens after the final bell, a sign that he knew it was going to be a close call. While he had not performed at his best, it still appeared as though had done enough with the punches he landed. The judges did not see it that way, scoring the fight in Mina’s favour on a split decision.
The result is a bitter disappointment for the Moate fighter who had been looking forward to the Games for the past four years after missing out on London.
Ward expressed his disappointment at how the fight had gone, particularly with the referee’s decision to deduct him two points “in crucial stages” for dropping his head. “The two points cost me the fight,” he said; “I was winning it and he got involved for no reason.”
Ward will now take some time to decide on his next step with the possibility of a venture into the pro ranks on the cards.