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Disappointment for Joe Ward as he's forced to settle for World Championship silver

The 21-year-old was beaten in this evening’s final.

Ciarán Gallagher reports from Doha

IRELAND’S FINAL MEDAL tally at the World Championships is one gold, one silver and one bronze after Joe Ward gallantly lost out in his 81kg light-heavyweight decider at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena in Doha.

Cuban Julio la Cruz, the world No 1 and No 1 seed here at the tournament, claimed his third world title with a 3-0 unanimous decision win over Ward, winning every round on the judges’ cards, in a 30-27 call.

Moate light-heavyweight Ward boxed  courageously bravely, but found La Cruz hard to catch.

“It was a big ask for me, he’s not three-time world champion for nothing, he’s a very, very talented boxer, but I showed in there I can mix it with the best,” said Ward immediately after the bout.

La Cruz was named Boxer of the Year by the AIBA on Tuesday night in advance of the final, and despite that strange call in awarding the accolade before this clash it was well merited based on his outstanding defensive performances.

A hard left hand early on from Ward saw him try to set the tone, but after losing the first and second as the 21-year-old was forced to chase the bout.

Ward was out to follow the lead of Michael Conlan, who became the first-ever Irishman to claim a world gold medal last night, but he instead takes home a silver medal as consolation, with the significant prize of a place at the Rio 2016 Olympics also picked up thanks to his success in reaching the 81kg world final.

Joseph Ward in action against Julio La Cruz Source: Francis Myers/INPHO

“Overall these championships has been pretty decent for me. I came out here to qualify for the Olympic Games and I achieved that,” said Ward.

Meanwhile, Michael O’Reilly’s Olympic fate is still uncertain as he may have to wait until December for word on whether he can qualify for Rio thanks to his fourth-place bronze medal finish here.

O’Reilly lost out to Hosam Abdin in controversial circumstances last night in his third-place Olympic box-off, with the Egyptian awarded a 3-0 unanimous decision even though 22-year-old O’Reilly appeared to dominate the bout.

There’s a chance O’Reilly could still qualify for Rio through the Worlds if Cuba’s world champion uses his World Series of Boxing place to go to the Olympics instead of the quota place he took here in Doha, but governing body AIBA say that the Cuban National Olympic Committee have until December to make their call.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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