After his first round stoppage win against Mario Rodriguez last week, Joe Ward was pictured with his coaching team of, from left, Joey Gamache, Jimmy Payne and Adam Glenn.

Ward hopeful of homecoming fight in Ireland this year

Joe Ward is aiming to have his first fight in Ireland as a professional this year, after he recorded an impressive round one TKO win against previously unbeaten Mexican Mario Andrade Rodriguez in Canada on March 16.

It was the Moate boxer’s tenth bout since turning professional in 2019, with these contests having taken place in the United States (six), Mexico (two), Puerto Rico (one), and Canada (one).

Speaking to the Westmeath Independent on Monday, Ward said he expected to be back in action “pretty soon,” and his promoter Lou DiBella and management team Times Square Boxing have been looking into staging one of his upcoming fights in Ireland, possibly as soon as this summer.

“I would really look forward to fighting back at home, because it’s been a while,” said the 29-year-old, who had a world class career as an amateur.

“I’ll be straight back into training this week because I need to keep in shape and stay ready for the opportunities when they come.”

Ninety-one seconds is all it took for him to record his latest win, as he produced an impressive display of power punching to dispatch Rodriguez with a minimum of fuss.

The victory, in the Montreal suburb of Laval, was a perfect start to a year in which he hopes to rise up the ranks of the light heavyweight division and eventually earn a shot at a title fight.

“I was confident going in because I knew how much damage I was causing my opponents in sparring. I knew that if I caught him cleanly it would be over,” said Ward.

He admitted he was not at his best in his previous fight - a points win against Frederic Julan in New York in December - and was determined to make amends this time.

“I was criticised for my last performance. I know that you need to be at 100% at all times, and build that expectation up through your performances. I had to be ready, and I had to be more ruthless.

“I’m learning as I go along as a professional, but I’m starting to adapt and it’s going well.”

The TKO victory improved Ward’s record to 9 wins (5 by KO) and only one defeat, which came when he suffered a freak injury by dislocating his knee in his professional debut.

He flew home in time to march in last Sunday’s St Patrick’s parade with Athlone Boxing Club.

“We got a great reception, and all the kids enjoyed it. It was a pity that the rain came down pretty heavy, but it was great to be involved in it,” he said.