As the Advertiser was going to press last night, Moate boxer Joe Ward was at the ringside for bout number 115 in the 81kg division as he watched the outcome unfold between Abdurakhmonov Dilovasnoi of Tajikistan and Dmitrov Stoimen of Bulgaria to determine who with be the Westmeath man’s opponent in the last thirty two at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Anyone who knows the 17-year-old Ward will tell you he is a very likeable teenager, a product of the stable of champions at Moate Boxing Club, and a credit to his mother Teresa and his mentors.
Being a boxer can have more than its share of loneliness as it has for any individual sportsperson and the Moate teenager has spent all of September away from home, spending three weeks at the training camp in Cologne in Germany.
He was given a bye to the last 32 after being rated second only to Russia’s Yegor Mekhonstev. Should he win his way through to the quarter-finals he will then have qualified for the London Olympics where only the strong survive.
Success is nothing new to the youth from Moate. In 2009, Ward won the AIBA World light middleweight junior title after a win against Hayk Khachatryan of Armenia in Yerevan, Armenia.
A year later he did it again this time at the AIBA World Youth championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Last June hopes were high when Ward travelled to the European Amateur Boxing Championships in Ankara and defeated the highly rated Imre Szello of Hungary before taking gold a day later when he defeated Russian Nikita Ivanov 20-12.
Also in 2009 Ward was part of a successful Moate all-whites u16 side that lifted the county u16 football title in Mullingar, but he admits he hung his boots up afterwards to concentrate on his ring career.
He makes no secret of the fact he would one day like to become a full time pro but as always he has his feet planted firmly planted on the ground with his sights firmly focused on the London Olympics next years.
In February at the senior championships, the 17-year-old shocked many in the boxing world and forced the doubters to sit up and take note as he twice sent the Olympic silver medallist Kenny Egan to the canvas, claiming the 81kg title.
Boxing fans had taken note of how calm Ward was as he mingled among fight fans in the hours leading up to the big occasion.
Many across the boxing fraternity speak of Katie Taylor as our best prospect of a medal at the forthcoming Olympics. If all goes to plan then in the same breath they may well mention the name of the very likeable Joe Ward for future Olympic glory.