JOE WARD WILL fight in his second successive World Boxing Championship final after an intense victory over Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev in Hamburg this evening.
The Westmeath native was already assured a place on the podium – making history by becoming the first Irish male fighter to rack up three World medals – but now has another chance to claim gold.
Ward, the reigning European champion, took Friday’s semi by split decision after a gruelling bout.
Melikuziev, who is an Olympic and World silver medalist at middleweight but who moved up to light heavyweight earlier this year, was a tough competitor.
But, having begun the fight with a number of stitches to his left brow, the intensity of the battle inevitably led to one coming away and a cut being opened-up, leaving him covered in blood.
Joe Ward by split decision. First Irishman in history qualify for two WC finals, let's see if he can be our second to get that gold #JoeWard
The pair exchanged shots and, though Ward tired significantly in the third, he managed some decent punches midway through.
Still, it seemed extremely tight.
Two judges gave the fight to Melikuziev (27-30, 28-29) but the other three felt Ward had done enough (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) and he’ll now look forward to a Saturday evening final with a man he knows very well.
Cuban Julio Cesar La Cruz got the better of Ward in the semi-finals of the 2013 World Championships and also beat him in the final two years ago.
So, Ward will require very little motivation heading into the showdown.
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