As expected a great night’s boxing at the National Stadium in this the 100th centenary year of the I.A.B.A. The fight that everyone wanted to see proved to be the thriller expected if not the outcome that most pundits had predicted.
AIBA World Youth Champion , Moate’s Joe Ward claimed victory over 10 times Irish Elite champion Kenny Egan in the light-heavyweight final . Egan was targeting an unprecedented 11th successive Elite title but never looked comfortable against the 17-year-old Ward, 11 years his junior.
Egan took the fight to his young opponent from the start, indeed he was the early aggressor but a second minute flurry from Ward had the Olympic medallist in trouble and Egan early signs of the problems that he continued to face throughout the contest. .
Both fighters struggled to land clean punches in the those opening stages but with the duo tied a 1-1, powerful left from the Moate youngster gave Ward the advantage as the bell tolled for the end of the first round.
Ward always appeared the hungrier of the two and even at that stage Egan faced an uphill battle as Ward constantly kept the pressure on the Neillstown man and never allowed him gain the upper hand .
Referee Duffy had words of advice for Egan as he dropped his head more than once with Ward looking rather frustrated.
Egan continued to drop his head and inevitably was eventually warned by referee Sadie Duffy, a warning which cost him 2 points and left the scores level 4-4 by the end of the second round.
That penalty further upset Egan’s rhythm and he appeared to be running out of answers to Ward’s pressure game. When the Dubliner was penalised a second time for dropping his head, he lost his composure.
Ward showed composure way beyond his 17 years and continued to keep Egan on the back foot ; a crunching left in the closing stages of the round floored the Olympic Silver medallist , who had to take a standing eight count before the clock ran down and Ward ran out a very deserving 11-6 victor.
That Ward is a star in the making seems beyond doubt and now he will target a medal in the forthcoming European Senior championships. Egan though far from his best in this bout has been written off before –if he continues his early good form in the WSB series it is not impossible that we will see him
represent Ireland again in the International arena but no one could doubt that Ward was the worthy winner on this occasion.
Words of praise too for referee Sadie Duffy, who refereed this fight as well as any she has ever officiated at. A respected official on the International circuit the Buncrana, Donegal native is also Hon Secretary of the Ulster Council and highly rated by the A.I.B.A, the sport’s controlling body.