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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Morgan Treacy/INPHO Ward: Controversial defeat on his Olympic debut.
# Reaction
'I'm a little bit disappointed for Joe and a little bit disappointed with Joe'
Room for Ward to improve and mature after Olympics exit, coach Eddie Bolger says.

– Niall Kelly reports from Riocentro, Rio de Janeiro

JOE WARD WILL learn from the mistakes that cost him his Olympic dream, Irish coach Eddie Bolger said.

The Mullingar boxer was dumped out of the light-heavyweight division on Tuesday night after he was docked two points in a controversial split decision loss.

Chinese referee Meng Wang penalised him twice for illegally holding Carlos Mina and, despite winning the fight on the judges’ scorecards, he was eliminated.

With a bit more maturity, Ward could have kept out of the referee’s bad books, Bolger said.

“Of course there was a bit of shock.

“I’m a little bit disappointed for Joe and a little bit disappointed with Joe. He’s a young lad, he’s not developed in all the areas yet. We should be able to deal with that.

You don’t listen to a good referee and it might cost you; you don’t listen to a bad referee and it will cost you. We should have been able to deal with it.

“But he’s a young lad, 22 years of age, there are a few more areas that we’ve got to develop.

“To win every round, to lose two points and to lose on a split decision, it says a lot. If the fight is a messy fight, separate them, have a good word with them, give them a warning each and get on with it. It’s a bit harsh.

“We’ve got to develop Joe, that’s the bottom line. He’ll take a lot from this. He’s got to the Olympics. I think it’s a very competitive Olympic Games, very tough. It’s not the end of the world.”

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After missing out on qualification for the London Olympics four years ago, Ward was widely tipped to turn professional.

Interest from promoters is sure to mount again on his return from Rio, but Bolger wants Ward to keep developing before he makes any decision.

“The issue at the minute is not about whether he boxes amateur or pro. It’s about fixing the things he needs to fix.

“I’ve a very good relationship with Joe as you know and that’s really what we’re going to be setting out to do. We’ll talk to Joe later on.

There’s no point losing anybody to the pro game if you’re not ready for it. This amateur game as they call it now is probably a couple of levels above the pro game.

“Joe’s happy. He’s not happy today but he will be happy again. We’ll have a heart to heart down the line.”

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