Joe Ward (blue) in action aganst Bahran Muzaffer (red) of Turkey. Ward lost 18-15. ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
London 2012

Controversy as Joe Ward crashes out of final Olympic qualifier

The Irish light-heavyweight had an appeal over his controversial defeat to Bahran Muzaffer of Turkey rejected this evening.

Updated at 20.30

JOE WARD’S OLYMPIC dream came to a controversial end at the final men’s boxing qualifier in Trabzon this afternoon.

Ward, the reigning European light-heavyweight champion and tipped as one of Ireland’s top medal prospects in the ring, lost 18-15 against Bahran Muzaffer of Turkey in the last 16.

The Irish camp later lodged an appeal against the result, which they felt was unfairly scored, but it was rejected.

Fighting out of the blue corner in front of a partisan home crowd, Ward fell behind early on and trailed by a single point at the end of the first three-minute round. Muzaffer managed to maintain that margin in the second round and led 12-11 heading into the last before closing out his win.

It was a redemptive win for the Turkish fighter, who saw his own Olympic dreams dashed by Kenneth Egan at the Beijing games in 2008.

Speaking to Paul McDermott of the Irish Sports Council afterwards, Ireland’s head coach Billy Walsh said that he had his doubts about the manner in which the final round — won 6-4 by Muzaffer — was scored.

“In the last round, I thought Joe did all the cleaner scoring,” Walsh said. “That’s what you’re up against.

You’re here and there’s a partisan crowd. Even if Joe’s hitting, sometimes they’re pressing the wrong button.

It’s very unfortunate but he’s had two chances to qualify and he hasn’t done it. He’s probably one of the best boxers in the world in the weight division.

“Round three, the Turk kept spoiling for the three minutes, ” team manager Des Donnelly told RTÉ Sport at 7.

“He maybe threw two or three shots, one of them hit the target. The problem is where did the six points come from?

We’ve lodged an objection and we hope that they’ll look at the video of the fight and come back to us, but to be quite honest, I’m not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, speaking on Newstalk’s Off the Ball, McDermott said in relation to the fight:

“There was nothing too controversial about it – I felt that Joe had won the fight reasonably comfortably.

You try not to be too biased and too partisan, but all of the international journalists agreed with us.

He added that Ward was hugely disappointed with the outcome: “He was carrying a lot of expectation – London 2012 will be much poorer without him.”

There was disappointment too for Clonmel’s Con Sheehan who lost 17-12 to another Turkish opponent, Muhammet Erkan Aci, in the super-heavyweight division.

Light-welterweight Ross Hickey was beaten by Dmitri Galagot of Moldova. Hickey was up against it from the start and playing catch-up in the final round, he took a standing count before ultimately losing out on a scoreline of 24-11.

Earlier, welterweight Adam Nolan marched into the quarter-finals with a 14-9 points decision over Poland’s Tomasz Kot, as did Belfast heavyweight Tommy McCarthy who comfortably beat Colpa Alem of Bosnia 12-3.

Additional reporting by Adrian Russell and Paul Fennessy.

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