First round loss 'a blessing in disguise' for Ward
Coach Jamie Moore believes Steven Ward will come back stronger after learning the hard way that he is no longer a light-heavyweight.
Ward was left stunned when hitting the floor three times before being stopped in the first round of his Golden Contract quarter-final by Latvian underdog Ricards Bolotniks, in Essex.
Having defeated Liam Conroy - who made it through to the semi-finals of the eight-man tournament on Saturday night -back in June at the Ulster Hall, Ward was one of the favourites to go all the way to a six-figure prize but he simply had no resistance to the Latvian's punches.
After a left hook cannoned off his chin to put him down for the first time, Ward instinctively - but naively - decided to fire back instead of holding on to let his head clear and Bolotniks took advantage. But, Moore says the main issue was Ward's battle with the scales.
"This loss could actually be a blessing in disguise for Steven because we have been at him for a year to make the move up to cruiserweight. He's such a big lad and when he comes into camp he is already very lean and it has just got to the point that it's taking too much out of him -he didn't have the punch resistance," said Moore.
"It was really tough for him but that kind of loss can happen to anyone - you get caught cold and it's hard to recover but at the same time the weight was an issue.
"After Steven had beaten Conroy in Belfast we had agreed that he would move up to cruiserweight but then this opportunity of the Golden Contract came along with the chance of life-changing money so he decided to go for it and it just didn't work out.
"We've told told him to go away and forget about boxing for a while, enjoy Christmas and then he can regroup and look ahead to hopefully returning to the ring around April or May.
"It's a big jump up from light-heavyweight to cruiserweight but I've no doubt he will be a lot stronger at the weight. There's a lot more to come from Steven."
Meanwhile, Belfast's Caoimhin Agyarko chalked up a sixth consecutive victory when he stopped Bulgarian journeyman Danail Stoyanov in London on Saturday.